Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass

Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community Senate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 McConnellOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal 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 RyanTrump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' The unexpected shadow of 1994, 25 years later Addressing climate change is a win for Republicans — why not embrace it? 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 AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' 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 MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' 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.”