Paul LePage 'thanks' Susan Collins for helping Anthem leave Maine health exchange

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On Thursday, Gov. Paul LePage blamed Susan Collins for Anthem’s departure effective next year, telling WGAN, “Thank you, Susan Collins.”

Gov. Paul LePage gave a sarcastic “thank you” to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday after Anthem said it would leave Maine’s Affordable Care Act marketplace … after she opposed a repeal bill that Anthem’s trade group said was bad.

The governor escalated his battle with the senator. Collins announced that she’d oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill on Monday, keeping it from a Senate vote after she opposed Republicans’ last repeal bid in July. LePage has criticized her for that decision this week, but on Thursday he blamed her for Anthem’s departure effective next year, telling WGAN, “Thank you, Susan Collins.” But that deserves some unpacking.

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Anthem’s trade group said Graham-Cassidy would ‘further’ destabilize insurance markets. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group that represents it, told Congress this week that Graham-Cassidy would have “negative consequences on consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market.”

Insurers don’t like existing law. But they like some of it. That same statement noted existing uncertainty in Affordable Care Act markets and hit Graham-Cassidy for keeping taxes that insurers oppose. Anthem supported one main piece of Republicans’ earlier replacement plan — continuing the current cost-sharing subsidies that lower insurance for low-income people. Graham-Cassidy would have repealed them.

And what’s the word from Collins? Spokeswoman Annie Clark said in an email that Graham-Cassidy “did not provide the certainty” Anthem “needed to stay in the market,” noting the repeal of cost-sharing subsidies. She said bipartisan talks to stabilize the law must restart in Senate health committee that Collins sits on.

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