Collins: ‘Extremely disappointing’ ObamaCare fix left out of spending deal

Greg Nash

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Wednesday it is “extremely disappointing” that a bill she backed to stabilize ObamaCare markets was left out of a must-pass government funding bill.  

Collins voted for the tax-reform legislation in December after securing a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to support the ObamaCare fix. Collins had worried about the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax bill and the resulting premium increases. She wanted the stability measures to try to make up for that. 

But now the fix is being left out of a funding measure that is likely the last chance for the health legislation to pass this year. 

Democrats say Collins should never have made the deal to support tax reform in the first place, saying she should have known that Republicans would not agree to fix ObamaCare. 

{mosads}But Collins is also pointing blame at Democrats, saying they are blocking the latest version of the ObamaCare fix because of unfounded concerns over an abortion provision. 

Republicans have insisted that restrictions on the new ObamaCare stability funding going toward abortions be included in the bill. Democrats say that is a dealbreaker and would expand the restrictions, known as the Hyde Amendment, such that no federal funds could go to an insurer that covered an abortion at all. 

That dispute was the primary reason the deal collapsed and the bill aimed at lowering ObamaCare premiums did not make it into the funding bill, known as the omnibus. 

“The Omnibus is the last opportunity to prevent these rate increases from taking effect and to help stabilize the market,” Collins wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night. 

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), pushed back on Collins’s criticism of Pelosi in the tweet. 

“Republicans were repeatedly told that Democrats would not support expanding Hyde,” Connelly said. “We believe Senator Collins is familiar with her party’s continuing obsession with trying to undermine Roe v Wade.”

Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office, meanwhile, said that Democrats would not agree to the “reasonable” request to apply the Hyde Amendment to the ObamaCare payments, which are known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and reinsurance. 

“The speaker said throughout the negotiations that CSRs or reinsurance would need to comply with the long-standing bipartisan Hyde Amendment,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. “Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues wouldn’t agree to that reasonable ask.”

Updated at 11:33 p.m.

Tags Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan Susan Collins

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