Collins tells Barr to reverse course, defend ObamaCare

Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Toward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates MORE (Maine) is urging Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump says he has 'total confidence' in Barr In defense of William Barr Trump suggests he may sue over Mueller investigation MORE to defend ObamaCare and reverse an earlier Justice Department decision.

In a letter, Collins expresses her “profound disagreement” with the department’s decision to side with a district court ruling that found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

“This surprising decision goes well beyond the position taken by the Department last June" and puts a number of “critical consumer provisions” of the law at risk, she writes.

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The Justice Department's announcement marked a significant escalation of the administration’s renewed efforts to eliminate the law, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE seeking for the Republican Party to become “the party of great health care.”

Collins told Barr that the administration should approach Congress with proposed changes to the law or seek to repeal it again.

“The Administration should not attempt to use the courts to bypass Congress,” she writes.

Collins argues that while Congress struck down the individual mandate as part of its tax-reform law in 2017, it did not intend for protections for people with preexisting conditions to “stand or fall together with the individual mandate."

Republicans have yet to pass an alternative to ObamaCare, despite pushes to repeal and replace it. Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request Scaramucci thanks John Kelly for speaking up against Trump Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' MORE claimed Sunday that he can guarantee that Americans would not lose coverage if ObamaCare is struck down.

Collins, who is up for reelection next year and voted to confirm Barr, said last week that she was “surprised” and “appalled” by his decision on the health care law.

“I think the Justice Department has a duty to defend the duly enacted laws … I was surprised and disappointed," she said. "If the president disagrees with a law, then he should ask Congress to repeal or change that law. He should not try to get rid of it through the courts.” 

Updated at 9:24 a.m.