Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill

Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' GOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Chamber looks to support Democratic allies in 2020 MORE (R-Maine) has doubled the amount of money she's requesting in her ObamaCare stabilization bill in exchange for her vote on the GOP's tax-reform plan. 

Collins, a key vote on tax reform, is pushing for the passage of two ObamaCare bills in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the tax bill's repeal of the individual insurance mandate. 

One of those bills — sponsored by her and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.) — would provide states with $10 billion over two years to establish high-risk pools or reinsurance programs to lower premiums. 

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That's more than double the $4.5 billion originally requested in her bill, which she introduced in September.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight MORE (R-Ky.) said he would support passage of both bills, which could be added to the end-of-year spending deal. 

"This plan will provide $5 billion annually for two years in seed money for states to establish invisible high-risk pools or traditional reinsurance programs," Collins said in a statement Friday. 

"We know from experiences in the states of Maine and Alaska that high-risk pools can help to lower premiums substantially — by an average of 20 percent," she said.

Collins had concerns that the tax bill's repeal of the individual mandate would increase insurance premiums.

She hopes the passage of her reinsurance bill, plus a bill authored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Public health experts raise alarm as coronavirus spreads Overnight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash MORE (D-Wash.), would mitigate those increases.

It's not clear when Collins requested an increase in reinsurance funding.

However, experts have said reinsurance would need at least $10 billion per year to effectively mitigate the effects of repealing the mandate. 

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the mandate would increase premiums by about 10 percent. 

Collins voted in favor of the Senate GOP's tax plan early Saturday morning, saying she had "commitments" that the ObamaCare bills would be passed.