Key senator leaning against voting for GOP health bill, blasting it for gutting preexisting conditions protections

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Friday that she is leaning toward voting against the latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, citing the bill’s potential to increase premium costs for individuals with preexisting conditions.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Collins said at an event in her home state of Maine Friday morning that she is moving closer to being another of the definitive “no” votes on the Graham-Cassidy bill. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is already one Republican publicly against it.

“I’m reading the fine print on Graham-Cassidy,” Collins said. “The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable.”

“I’m just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine,” Collins added.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would not erase the ACA’s protections preventing insurance companies from outright denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, but it could allow for more expensive premiums. The bill would also permit states to opt out of providing benefits such as prescription drugs, which could result in more individuals paying out of pocket.

However, the architects of the bill disagree. During an interview with conservative talk radio host C.L. Bryant on Thursday, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said that while states could develop their own programs, fair coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions would be required.

“We have language in there that says, ‘A governor may decide he wants to try, or she wants to try to lower health care costs and can come up with a plan to do so, but whatever plan they have must make sure that those with preexisting conditions have access to affordable and adequate coverage,'” Cassidy said.

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