Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass

Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine) said Monday that she is “optimistic” that the ObamaCare fixes she is pushing for can still pass, despite the deadline for voting on them having “slipped.”

“Our negotiations with the House are going very, very well,” Collins told reporters. “The deadline slipped but the policy is what is important.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments Warren promises gradual move toward 'Medicare for All' in first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) in December gave a commitment to Collins to support the passage of two bills aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets and lowering premiums before the end of the year, in exchange for her vote for the tax reform bill.

The end of the year came and went without votes on the two bills, but Collins said Monday she is still “optimistic.”

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She said she has spoken twice to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE (R-Wis.) about the measures, which have encountered strong resistance from House conservatives who fear they are bailing out ObamaCare.

“I've talked twice to the Speaker so I think we're making progress on that,” Collins said.

Collins and Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) say they are hoping for inclusion of the measures in a long-term government funding bill, known as an omnibus, that could get a vote in the coming weeks.

“I think that's going along pretty well,” Alexander said Monday. “I think the objective is that would be part of the omnibus bill.”

The two measures, known as Alexander–Murray and Collins–Nelson, would provide funding aimed at bringing down ObamaCare premiums and stabilizing markets.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants MORE (D-Wash.) and other Democrats, though, are pushing for changes to Alexander–Murray, saying it needs to be reworked now that Republicans have destabilized the markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

Democrats say they have not made a proposal to Republicans on specific changes to the bill, yet, however.

And Alexander, for his part, has said he thinks the bills will remain “fundamentally” the same.

Ryan expressed openness to something like the Collins–Nelson bill earlier this month. That measure provides funding known as reinsurance to help pay for the claims of especially sick people and bring down premiums.

“I've talked to Susan Collins and Democrats about this,” Ryan said, adding that there could be a “bipartisan opportunity.”