Sen. Susan Collins, a key Republican centrist who opposed her party's efforts to repeal Obamacare this year, said Wednesday that Tuesday's election results show an urgency to work on the healthcare law's flaws.
"I think it's significant that healthcare was such a prominent issue," Collins told reporters, pointing to how residents in her state of Maine voted to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
"I believe when you look at the overwhelming vote in my state for Medicaid expansion that it shows that Republicans need to put forth constructive legislation," she said.
Concerns about healthcare also contributed to Democratic gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia, exit polls show.
In Maine, residents voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare to low-income people who make less than $16,643 a year. Maine is expected to become the 32nd state, not including the District of Columbia, to expand the program.
Obamacare was originally written to mandate all states expand Medicaid to low-income people, but a Supreme Court decision made the provision optional for states. Maine is the first to expand the program through a ballot initiative rather than through a state legislature, and about 80,000 residents are expected to qualify for expansion coverage.
Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage said that he will not move forward with expansion until the state finds a way to pay for it. Asked about those comments, Collins replied, "I was surprised at his comments because it was a very strong vote, but I don't know enough about how that plays out legally."
Collins said she would not comment on what LePage should or should not do, adding, "I never take positions on state referendum questions."
Collins cited the Alexander-Murray bill in the Senate as an example of a solution she supports on Obamacare. The bill's details were agreed upon by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., who lead the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. It would fund the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers that President Trump ended and give states more flexibility in how they implement Obamacare.
Collins has long supported an approach that would fix Obamacare rather than repeal it. In 2015 she did not support a bill that passed Congress and would have repealed portions of Obamacare, which former President Barack Obama vetoed.
"Rather than trying to completely repeal the ACA we should be focused on trying to fix its flaws," Collins said.