Sen. Susan Collins, one of two Republicans who has already expressed opposition to the bill that would replace Obamacare warned the legislation would translate into “sweeping and deep cuts” to Medicaid while putting “the very existence of our rural hospitals and our nursing homes” at risk. The Senate has delayed consideration of the health care legislation while Sen. John McCain recovers from surgery and Collins said she doesn’t know whether it will be able to garner enough support. “I think it would be extremely close,” Collins said. “There are many of us who have concerns about the bill, particularly the cuts to the Medicaid program.”
In an interview with ABC’s This Week, Collins said she estimates “there are about eight to 10 Republicans” in the Senate who have “deep concerns” about the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. “This bill would make sweeping and deep cuts to the Medicaid program, which has been a safety net program on the books for more than 50 years, ensuring that some of our most vulnerable citizens, our disabled children, our low-income seniors, receive the health care that they need,” Collins said. “It would also jeopardize the very existence of our rural hospitals and our nursing homes, which not only provide essential care to people in rural America, but also are major employers in the small communities in which they are located.”
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Collins about Vice President Mike Pence’s recent claim that the bill would strengthen Medicaid, the senator said she “would respectfully disagree with the vice president’s analysis.” The “very deep cuts” to Medicaid that are included in the bill “would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Collins said.
The senator noted that the “worst” part about these sweeping changes is that they would take place “without the Senate having held a single hearing to evaluate their impact.” While there might be room to slash Medicaid costs, “we haven’t had that kind of in-depth analysis, public hearings” that could help new ideas emerge.
For now at least no major changes are planned and the Senate expects to hold the vote on the Republican health care bill once McCain recovers from surgery, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said. “But yes, I believe that when we have a full contingent of Senators that we’ll have that vote and it’s important that we do so,” Cornyn added.
There are only 52 Republicans in the Senate and two of them, Collins and Sen. Rand Paul, have already said they won’t support the legislation. Paul said on Sunday he doesn’t think Republicans have enough votes to approve the legislation. “I still think the entire 52 of us can get together on a more narrow, clean repeal,” the Kentucky Republican said.