Sen. Susan Collins hinted Monday that backing from President Trump would help get two Obamacare stabilization bills passed in the House.
The Maine Republican said she received an “ironclad commitment” from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Trump that the two bills would become law by the end of the year. Missing from that statement is a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“You don’t think that the president has influence with people on the House?” Collins responded to a question Monday about whether Ryan supports the bill.
One bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., would reimburse Obamacare insurer payments for two years and in return give states more flexibility to waive insurer regulations. A second bill from Collins and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would give states $10 billion over two years to set up a reinsurance program to help cover the sickest claims from Obamacare insurers, thus lowering premiums for everyone else.
The “ironclad” commitment was crucial to getting Collins to support a Senate tax bill that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate that everyone buy health insurance. Independent estimates and experts have said that without the mandate penalties, premiums on Obamacare’s exchanges would rise because younger people would lack incentive to sign up for health insurance.
Ryan initially opposed Alexander-Murray when it was released this fall, as did Trump. In addition, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have voiced opposition.
Trump called the payments to insurers “bailouts,” even though they reimburse insurers for a requirement under the law to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare enrollees.
Trump halted the payments Oct. 18, leading most insurers to raise premiums by double digits to recoup the costs.
A short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until Dec. 22 does not include either bill.
Collins said she suspects it will be in the next must-pass legislative vehicle. She would prefer both bills are signed into law before tax reform is completed.
The Senate passed its version of the tax legislation early Saturday morning. The House and Senate will meet in a conference committee to reconcile differences between their two pieces of legislation.
The House is expected to vote on the members for its conference committee Monday.