FEATURED:

Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal

Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (R-Maine) said Sunday that she wants two bipartisan ObamaCare bills to pass before the Senate takes up a tax bill that repeals the health law’s individual mandate.

Collins, a key swing vote on the tax bill, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she did not think the mandate repeal should be in the tax bill, but she indicated she thinks the rise in premiums from repealing the mandate could be mitigated if two other bills passed first.

Those other bills are an ObamaCare stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.) that would fund key payments to insurers for two years, and a bill she introduced with Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Florida extending early voting in counties hit by hurricane Poll:Majority of voters say health care 'very important' to them in midterms MORE (D-Fla.) that would provide funding for "reinsurance" programs aimed at bringing down premiums. Reinsurance provides funding to help pay the cost of some especially sick enrollees, allowing insurers to lower premiums.

Collins did not definitively say if she would vote against the tax bill if the two other bills do not pass, but she did say she would like to see them dealt with first.

“I'm worried about the impact on premiums,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week" during another Sunday interview. “And that's why we're going to need to pass legislation. And I would like to see that done before we go to the tax bill.”

That request could be very hard to meet, however, given that Democrats say they will block the Alexander-Murray bill from passing if Republicans keep the mandate repeal in the tax bill.

The Congressional Budget Office has found that if the mandate is repealed, premiums would rise 10 percent.

Collins argues her reinsurance bill would help cancel that out. Other Republicans have criticized reinsurance as just giving more money to insurers.

“I hope [mandate repeal] will be dropped, or that bills that have been introduced by Senators Alexander and Murray and Bill Nelson and myself will be adopted to mitigate the impact of those provisions,” Collins said.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEx-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party Murkowski not worried about a Palin challenge Flake on Kavanaugh confirmation: To see GOP 'spiking the ball in the end zone' doesn't seem right MORE (R-Alaska), another moderate, has also said Alexander-Murray could help ease her concerns about repealing the mandate. But Murkowski has not drawn as strong a line as Collins on the bill. Murkowski said on Friday that “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.”