Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday she isn't concerned that House Republicans didn't include Obamacare stabilization bills in its short-term funding bill, saying GOP leadership will add them to the Senate version.
The House GOP released a short-term continuing resolution Wednesday that funds the government until Jan. 19. It does not include two bills that the centrist Maine Republican has been pushing to stabilize Obamacare’s exchanges in return for her vote for tax legislation that includes a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalties.
Collins shrugged off the House snub, saying it didn’t matter if the House passes a spending bill that doesn’t include the legislation.
“That has never been the plan,” she told reporters. “The plan is for the majority leader to add [the bills] in the Senate.”
Collins has said she received a commitment from the White House and GOP leadership to have the two bills signed into law by the end of the year.
One bill sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would give states $10 billion to help insurers cover the highest medical claims. Another bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., would make Obamacare insurer payments for two years in exchange for more regulatory flexibility for states.
Collins pushed for the bills to blunt any impact on premiums caused by the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty. However, experts doubt the two bills would do enough to soften increases in premiums.
Insurers and experts have said the mandate is key to getting younger and healthier people to sign up for Obamacare, which could throw markets into turmoil as only sicker people would sign up.
Collins said Thursday that the plan is still to pass the bills by the end of the year, and the new continuing resolution would be the only opportunity left.
Alexander told reporters Thursday he also hopes the bills are included in the Dec. 22 bill.
“I think we need to get this issue settled,” he said.
When asked about the lack of the legislation in the House GOP spending bill, Alexander responded, “House doesn’t pass it then we will have to pass it and send it to them.”
Many House conservatives oppose the legislation because they believe it is propping up a failing law.
Alexander countered that President Trump supports the deal and that the House already voted in May to approve the idea behind the reinsurance program. However, that provision was part of a larger package to repeal and replace Obamacare that ultimately failed.