Susan Collins Criticizes Obamacare Repeal Bill, Hints Strongly At A ‘No’ Vote

A bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act suffered another blow on Sunday when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) reiterated her criticism of the proposal and said she was likely to vote no.

“It’s very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” Collins said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Collins declined to declare a firm position on the proposal, saying that she wanted to wait until the Congressional Budget Office weighs in with some kind of formal analysis.

But Collins warned that the bill would likely deprive millions of people of insurance coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The senator added that it would take a “surprise” from the CBO, predicting very different results, to get her on board.

Such a surprise would be highly unlikely, since the CBO has already said that, because of the GOP’s rush to vote on the bill, it will not be able to produce a full estimate of coverage effects in time. The estimate due tomorrow is likely to focus only on the bill’s impact on the federal deficit.

Meanwhile, multiple private and independent analysts have all produced their own estimates. All have predicted devastating effects on insurance coverage and weaker protections for people with pre-existing conditions ― as Collins acknowledged.

“I actually expect the CBO will reinforce those studies … or that the CBO is going to say they simply don’t have time to do a thorough analysis,” Collins said. “Maybe there will be a surprise in there, but I don’t anticipate that.”

Collins’ position on the bill is hardly a shock. She is the least conservative member of the Republican caucus and has voted against every repeal bill to come up for a vote so far.

But her vote remains pivotal, because the GOP has only 52 seats in the upper chamber and two other GOP senators, John McCain from Arizona and Rand Paul from Kentucky, have already declared their opposition. A no from Collins would leave Republicans at least one short of 50, the minimum they need to pass the bill under special parliamentary authority that expires on Sept. 30. 

The sponsors of the legislation, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have said they are not giving up yet ― promising to modify it in ways that could win over some of the skeptics. “We’re moving forward,” Graham said Sunday during an appearance on ABC News “This Week.”

Administration officials made…

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