“I will vote no.”
Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) dealt her party another punishing blow to its already maligned and delayed health care bill.
After the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office published its estimate on Monday that 22 million Americans would lose access to health care coverage under the Senate Republican bill, Collins published a series of tweets explaining why she will vote against moving forward on the bill:
“I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on mtp 1/3”
“CBO says 22 million people lose insurance; Medicaid cuts hurt most vulnerable Americans; access to healthcare in rural areas threatened. 2/3”
“Senate bill doesn't fix ACA problems for rural Maine. Our hospitals are already struggling. 1 in 5 Mainers are on Medicaid. 3/3”
Collins, one of the few true moderates left in the Senate, has been on the fence about the Republican bill from the beginning. But losing her support for the bill’s current makeup makes it easier for other Republicans to walk away from a bill that’s reportedly supported by just 17% of Americans.
The CBO report wasn’t all terrible for Republicans, but it carried very few positive notes. The report says the bill would cut costs more than the House Republican bill while also taking away insurance for slightly fewer people. However, that 22 million number is impossible to ignore. And it has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell frantically telling his fellow Republicans, including President Trump, that if the bill fails to pass the Senate, he and his colleagues will be forced to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).
Trump has said he’s comfortable letting the Obamacare state exchanges “fail” if Republicans fail to pass a repeal of the health care law.
“This will be great if we get it done, and if we don't get it done it's just going to be something that we're not going to like, and that's OK, and I understand that very well,” Trump told a group of Republican senators visiting the White House on Tuesday.
Whether it’s intentional or not, that might actually be the smartest move politically, at least for Trump. It lets him say he did everything he could to pass the repeal that his Republican base wants. And if Obamacare doesn’t fail — and most experts think it will continue to be at least moderately successful in the coming years — he can take retroactive credit for not dealing Americans a crippling blow to their surprisingly resilient health care law.