Sen. Susan Collins of Maine discussed the warm welcome she received in Maine after her vote against the so-called "skinny repeal" bill, and shot down the Trump administration's talking points on "insurance bailouts."
Tapper: A very difficult time, very contentious time. President Trump, as you know, is hoping to revive the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. He needs the vote of one more senator in order to flip someone's vote, whether yours, Murkowski's, or McCain’s. The president appears to be threatening to cut off funding for health care plans that the members of Congress receive. Would that kind of pressure change your vote?
COLLINS: No, but, you know, the ball is really in our court right now. There are serious problems with the ACA. We're seeing collapsing markets in some areas of the country where even though people have subsidies, they're not going to be able to buy an insurance policy. So, our job is not done.
And what we need to do is to remember my friend, Lamar Alexander’s words. He says that Congress doesn't do comprehensive well. We need to go back to committee, to the health committee, the finance committee, identify the problems, carefully evaluate possible solutions through hearings and then produce a series of bills to correct these problems. The most serious of which is the pending collapse of the insurance markets. And I certainly hope the administration does not do anything in the meantime to hasten that collapse.
TAPPER: Well, as you note, the president is also threatening to cut off what he calls bailouts for insurance companies, presumably referring to the payments the government makes to insurance companies to reduce the costs for low-income Americans. The Trump administration has threatened to withhold this money before, which has led to uncertainty among insurance providers. If President Trump were to officially withdrawal that funding, would that affect your vote on health care?
COLLINS: It would not affect my vote on health care, but it's an example of why we need to act, to make sure that those payments, which are not an insurance company bailout, but rather help people who are very low income, afford their out-of-pocket costs towards their deductibles and their co-pays, and that's what we need to remember.
So it really would be detrimental to the some of the most vulnerable citizens if those payments were cut off. They're paid to the insurance companies but the people that they benefit are people who make between 100 percent and 250 percent of the poverty rate. So, we're talking about low income Americans who would be devastated if those payments were cut off.
The threat to cut off those payments has contributed to the instability in the insurance market. But what congress needs to do is to start by the first bill that we should consider is how to stabilize the market. And that is the key component to ensure that those payments continue to be made to benefit low-income Americans.