Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill

Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care 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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions 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 AlexanderDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Congress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify Senate Dems block Sasse measure meant to respond to Virginia bill 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.