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Maine needs Susan Collins to fight Senate’s attempt to sabotage Obamacare — again

Aaron Bernstein | REUTERS
Aaron Bernstein | REUTERS
Sen. Susan Collins speaks with reporters ahead of the party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2017.
By Peter Shaw, Special to the BDN

Just weeks after voters in Maine resoundingly approved a referendum to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Susan Collins has the opportunity to protect health care access for Mainers again by opposing an ill-conceived effort inserted into the Senate tax bill to repeal the health care law’s individual mandate.

Hopefully, she didn’t miss the message Maine voters sent on Election Day — stop trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which is the law of the land, and take away health care access from millions of Americans.

Collins already has courageously stood against her colleagues’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act several times, earning her well-deserved plaudits from Mainers and Americans nationwide. That acclaim will be jeopardized should she ignore her constituents and vote to take away access to health care.

After Senate Republicans attempted repeal back in July, Collins — who voted against that repeal without replace bill — scorned the chaotic gambit, demanding that both parties “ work together to address these very serious problems.” She rejected the “skinny repeal” because it would “not provide the market stability and premium relief that is needed.”

Nothing has changed since then, except that Senate Republicans are slipping an attack on the Affordable Care Act into their already-toxic tax bill, gifting enormous tax cuts to the ultrawealthy and profitable corporations — and they’re not even sugar-coating their motives.

Voting to gut the Affordable Care Act to pay for corporate giveaways is very unwise for Republicans, especially in light of Mainers overwhelmingly voting on Nov. 7 to expand health care access under Medicaid expansion.

I implore Collins to share our rejection of Republican attempts to sell out low-income seniors, middle-class families and people with disabilities. Indeed, she’s already expressed concern that her colleagues’ attempted sabotage of the Affordable Care Act has “ complicated” efforts to pass tax reform.

Voters in Maine fought back against Republicans’ misguided attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Their overwhelming vote to expand health care access should be the clearest signal yet to Collins that her constituents oppose the toxic measure that the Senate is pursuing — and that a vote to sabotage the Affordable Care Act now will eclipse any accolades she has already won. Collins can be heroic again if she stands with her constituents and stands strong against reckless and repeated attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

A vote to sabotage health care access to pay for tax giveaways will leave 13 million Americans without health insurance; explode the deficit, potentially triggering billions in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid down the road; and drive up premiums and tax bills for low-income and middle-class families.

Surely this is not what Mainers voted for just a few weeks ago.

Dr. Peter Shaw is a cardiologist. He lives in Falmouth.

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