Sorry, Ms. Collins, Obamacare Stabilization Won’t Pass This Year

Posted: Dec 20, 2017 3:13 PM

After Thanksgiving, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was confident that her health care stabilization legislation would pass before the Senate voted on the most extensive tax reform in nearly three decades. On December 6, she reiterated this claim (via AP):

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she is confident President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will ensure passage of two bills aimed at shoring up the insurance markets, a demand she made before supporting the Republican tax overhaul.

The Senate version of the tax bill narrowly passed Saturday, and Republican leaders hope to deliver a final tax package to the president by Christmas. A House bill already had been approved.

Several Democratic and left-leaning groups say Collins, a Republican, traded her support for health care concessions that House Republicans could ultimately block.

The senator from Maine wants to give states $10 billion over two years to establish high-risk pools or reinsurance programs to lower premiums. She also is pushing a bill that would provide key payments to insurance companies for the next two years in exchange for more flexibility in how states administer the federal health care law, which Republicans have unsuccessfully sought to repeal.

Well, now that tax reform is all but a done deal, Collins is concedes that her health care bills are not passing this year. In a statement, Collins said that Speaker Ryan called her to say that the House is still committed to passing similar legislation, but added it’ll have to wait until next year since a new CBO baseline could provide more funding for high-risk pools and reinsurance provisions that will lower premiums:

President Donald Trump also said he wants bills that stabilize the Obamacare markets by January (via Politico):

President Donald Trump wants lawmakers to pass two bipartisan bills early next year that would shore up the Affordable Care Act, the White House said on Wednesday.

Trump is eager to see both bills passed in January and will sign them, the White House said.

“We believe that we will work with the House to get those passed,” a senior White House official said. “We think that we will be in a more comfortable place in January to get that passed.”

A bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Patty Murray (D-Wash) would fund a key Obamacare insurance subsidy program. A separate bill from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla) would provide reinsurance funding to help insurers cover high-risk enrollees.

The tax bill that was passed by Congress repealed the Obamacare individual mandate, which fined people who don’t obtain health insurance.