Collins: McConnell has ‘kept his commitment’ on ObamaCare fix

Greg Nash

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “kept his commitment completely” to support ObamaCare fixes she championed. 

Collins pushed back on criticism she has received from Democrats that she should not have voted for the tax-reform bill in December in hopes of later passing her measure aimed at lowering ObamaCare premiums. 
McConnell gave have her a commitment in December to support the bills to lower ObamaCare premiums to help assuage her concerns about the effect of repealing the health-care law’s individual mandate in the tax bill. 
But now those ObamaCare fixes appear to have died after they were left out of a must-pass government funding bill this week, in large part due to Democratic objections to applying abortion restrictions to new ObamaCare funds. 
Democrats say Collins should not have trusted that the ObamaCare fixes would eventually become law in voting for tax reform. 
Collins, however, said she won many other victories in the tax legislation, such as averting an automatic cut to Medicare and including deductions for state and local taxes and medical expenses. 
“I was able to prevail on all of those and that was sufficient for me to vote for the bill,” Collins told reporters on Thursday. “The idea that this was the one and only issue, and that there was some kind of deal, is not an accurate assessment of what happened.”
She added that she still wants to prevent premium increases due to the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill, blaming Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for not adding her bill to lower premiums to the funding measure this week. 
“I’m very disappointed in the Speaker for giving in to the objections of Nancy Pelosi,” Collins said. “I believe he should have put it in the bill anyway.”
Collins said she remained happy with McConnell, though, and that she was satisfied he had pushed for the ObamaCare measure in leadership negotiations. 
“Senator McConnell has been completely supportive, has offered me a roll call vote if I want one, and if Lamar wants one, and he has kept his commitment completely on this,” Collins said, referring to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). 
Democrats say GOP leaders were not serious about reaching a bipartisan deal on the issue and insisted on “poison pills” like the abortion restrictions. 
Collins said it had not been decided whether there would be a vote on adding her ObamaCare fix to the funding bill, given that it would complicate matters if the funding measure had to go back to the House. 
AshLee Strong, a Ryan spokeswoman, on Wednesday night pointed to Democratic objections for why the health measure, which funded ObamaCare payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and reinsurance, was not included in the funding bill. 
“The speaker said throughout the negotiations that CSRs or reinsurance would need to comply with the long-standing bipartisan Hyde Amendment,” Strong said. “Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues wouldn’t agree to that reasonable ask.”
Tags Collins Healthcare Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi omnibus Paul Ryan Susan Collins

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