Denouncing a new Republican health care bill Thursday, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine called it a “really cruel” bid to take health care away from the poor, disabled and elderly “so very wealthy people can get a tax cut.”

While King offered harsh words about the proposed overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins took a wait-and-see position.

The Maine Republican told MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily” that she’s studying it, but she’s “really concerned about what the impact” of proposed Medicaid cuts will be “on the individuals who were covered as well as rural hospitals and other health care providers.”

Collins said this week she is particularly interested in seeing what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about the measure, a report that may not be available until early next week.

She expressed concern about many elements in the bill.

King, though, took to Facebook on Thursday to speak out against it.

The bill, he said, “basically increases the cost of health care, particularly for seniors” while making large cuts to Medicaid.

“It’s going to have a devastating effect economically on Maine, on our hospitals, and on our rural health care system – and all of this in the name of a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Americans,” King said.

To pass the bill, Republicans need to round up at least 50 votes in the Senate; a tie among its 100 members would be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. That could be a challenge.

Four GOP senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Thursday they are opposed to the bill as it stands because it doesn’t repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and lower health care costs.

But U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said their opposition is “pre-scripted political theater” and they’ll go along with the measure after some “meaningless, tiny amendments.”

Even so, there may be Republican foes of the bill, including perhaps Collins and other more moderate members of the GOP caucus, whose concerns differ from the conservatives.

The Senate health care bill is similar to one approved by the House but relies on even larger cuts and changes to Medicaid, a program that insures poor Americans, including many senior citizens, particularly those in nursing homes who have depleted their own savings.

It would change the basis for premium subsidies for lower-income people from the silver plans in the ACA health exchange to the bronze ones, which experts say adds about 15 percent to the cost that users have to pay.

It would also make it possible for states to pare the benefits policies must provide, though Maine has a long list of legal requirements, including mental health and maternity care, for policies that would remain the law for coverage within the state.

In addition to policy revisions, the Senate bill would repeal the penalties for individuals and business that don’t comply with the mandate to have insurance — though the mandate itself will remain intact — and ends a raft of taxes established to cover Obamacare costs.

After 2019, it would also cease providing subsidies to assist low-income people with deductibles and co-payments that can make out-of-pocket expenses so costly that they can’t be met.

The Republican bill also would let insurers charge older customers up to five times as much as younger ones for their policies, an increase from the maximum under the ACA of tripling the cost. In addition, it would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and reduce money for opioid addiction treatment.

There are countless details, though, that officials are poring over since the text’s release Thursday morning.

King said he’ll be reviewing them carefully, “but it doesn’t look hopeful right now.”

Collins told MSNBC that she “can’t support a bill that’s going to greatly increase premiums for older Americans or out-of-pocket costs for those who aren’t quite old enough for Medicare yet.”

“I cannot support a bill that’s going to result in tens of millions of people losing their health insurance,” she said.

“And I cannot support a bill that is going to make such deep cuts in Medicaid that it’s going to ship billions of dollars of costs to our state governments, to those who have insurance, and to health care providers such as rural hospitals, which would be faced with a great deal of uncompensated care,” Collins said.

“So it isn’t any one factor,” she said. “I do care also about funding Planned Parenthood. But it is all of those factors put together that’ll influence my decision.” 

Collins said she has doubled the number of aides who focus on health care so they can figure out more quickly what’s in the bill. They’re also working on possible amendments to deal with issues she is concerned with, the senator said.

 

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, leaves after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. GOP leaders hope to vote on the bill next week and can only afford two defections from the 52 Senate Republicans but the measure encountered immediate trouble as four Republican senators said they opposed it but were open to negotiations.
AP

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, leaves after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. GOP leaders hope to vote on the bill next week and can only afford two defections from the 52 Senate Republicans but the measure encountered immediate trouble as four Republican senators said they opposed it but were open to negotiations.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for a briefing with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who was releasing the Republican healthcare bill, the party’s long-awaited attempt to scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Moderates in the GOP, including Sen. Collins, have expressed concern that the measure would cause many to lose coverage.
AP

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for a briefing with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who was releasing the Republican healthcare bill, the party’s long-awaited attempt to scuttle much of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Moderates in the GOP, including Sen. Collins, have expressed concern that the measure would cause many to lose coverage.

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