October 17, 2017
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Vice president uses radio spot to pressure Sen. Collins

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Updated:
Joe Songer | AP | BDN
Joe Songer | AP | BDN
Vice President Mike Pence makes a campaign stop to support Sen. Luther Strange in Birmingham, Ala., Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.

Vice President Mike Pence pressured Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, during a Maine radio show Tuesday morning to drop her opposition to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

On Monday evening, Collins announced that she would not support the latest proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Because Collins was the third Republican in the closely divided Senate to announce opposition, a situation in which Pence could have cast the deciding vote to pass the bill evaporated. Republican Senate leaders decided Tuesday afternoon not to send the measure to a vote in which it would be doomed to fail.

In response, Pence said on WGAN, “We’re certainly disappointed that Susan Collins has chosen to vote against the Graham-Cassidy bill. This is the best opportunity to give the people of Maine and the people of America a fresh start on Obamacare.”

Collins cited the bill’s proposed cuts to Medicaid and its rollback of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“This bill will have a substantially negative impact on the number of people covered by insurance,” Collins said Monday. Her decision came after the bill’s sponsors made revisions that would have benefitted Maine upon implementation, though some groups have said Maine and other states would lose billions of dollars in funding in the long term, compared with current law.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage visited Pence in Washington on Friday, after which Pence congratulated LePage for his opposition to the bill.

“If we miss the opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare, things are just going to continue to get worse,” Pence said on WGAN. “Whether we get this done this week or someplace down the road, President Trump has made it clear we’re not going to relent in our effort to keep our promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said Collins and Pence have spoken “extensively” about health care reform, including over the weekend, about Collins’ concerns about the bill.


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