Maine’s U.S. senators, both Republicans, are pleased with the potential opportunity to revamp health care reform legislation caused by Tuesday’s election of a Massachusetts Republican, Scott Brown.

Brown will fill
the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat who died in office. Brown’s election has
thrown health care reform off course.

“(Democratic leadership) has to go back to the drawing board and try to reconsider their process and their policy; the message from the Massachusetts election has reverberated within the walls of Congress and with the president,” U.S Sen. Olympia Snowe said in an interview Thursday. Many Republicans and political strategists have said the election was the result of voters being displeased with the health care reform legislation crafted largely by Democrats.

Brown’s election gives Senate Republicans 41 votes. In order to override a filibuster and bring legislation to the floor, Democrats need 60 votes out of the 100-member body. So far, Republicans have presented a united opposition to the health care proposals brought to the floor, though Snowe did support a previous incarnation that was crafted by her committee last fall.

Lawmakers have been working since last year to overhaul the country’s health care system to increase access to uninsured Americans and to put spending control measures in place to curb ever-increasing health care costs and health insurance premiums.

“I think there was too much emphasis on, ‘how can we get it done’ rather than what we were trying to get done, and it resulted in this gargantuan package that people rightfully were suspicious of,” Snowe said. “There was just this total concentration and all-consuming focus on 60 votes. I said it should never be about that, but rather about crafting the right policy — and that was dismissed, as we know.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday’s election proved that “people are frustrated” with the manner in which health care reform has been handled.

“The results of this election also reflect the fact that so many people are appalled at the process by which the health care bill was negotiated behind closed doors, rammed through the Senate with limited debate and amendments, and riddled with special deals to garner votes,” Collins said in a statement. “They want their elected officials to set partisan politics aside and work together to forge solutions to the many challenges facing our country, particularly the need to strengthen the economy.”

Collins said she hoped the Massachusetts election would prompt congressional leadership to “start from scratch” and draft new legislation.

Snowe said the last time she spoke to President Barack Obama, who has been courting Snowe’s health care reform vote almost since he took office last year, was last Friday, before Brown’s election. She believes it’s now up to Obama and Democratic leaders to decide how they want to move forward.

“They are still in the process of evaluating among the leaders as to what would be the most feasible option among their group,” she said. “The problem isn’t going to go away. There are pieces I think we can build support around, because we’ve seen rising costs in Maine from a limited market and there are critical insurance reforms needed.”

Democrats would have to work with Republicans to move a package forward, Snowe said, but she wouldn’t name any other Republican who would be willing to engage in the issue.

“It all depends on how the president and (Democratic) leadership goes about reaching out to Republicans,” she said.

In the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said working with Snowe had been a “waste of time” because “she had no intention of ever working anything out.”

Snowe’s response: “No good deed goes unpunished. I mean, you have to build a level of trust in this institution to get things done and this (issue) is really important,” she said Thursday. “I don’t get sidetracked by what people say. No question, there is an issue (with health care), and especially in Maine. The question is how to best go about fixing it.”

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