ICYMI: Senator Collins Discusses Health Care on ABC’s “This Week”

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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins appeared on ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos to discuss the Senate health care bill.

A transcript of the interview follows:

“This Week”
June 25, 2017

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She’s joining us from Washington this morning. You just heard Senator Paul, you heard Kellyanne Conway, you heard Senator Schumer this morning. Is there any way this week for Senator McConnell and President Trump to come up with a bill that both you and Senator Paul can support?

COLLINS: It’s certainly going to be very difficult. For my part, I’m very concerned about the cost of insurance for older people with serious chronic illnesses and the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments, the most vulnerable people in our society, and health care providers, such as our rural hospitals and nursing homes, most of whom are very dependent on the Medicaid program. So threading that needle is going to be extremely difficult.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You just heard Kellyanne Conway say those are not Medicaid cuts. What is your response to that?

COLLINS: Well, I respectfully disagree with her analysis, but this is why we need the Congressional Budget Office assessment of the impact of the Senate bill on costs and coverage, including its analysis of Medicaid, and that will be coming out tomorrow. But based on what I’ve seen, given the inflation rate that would be applied in the outer years to the Medicaid program, the Senate bill is going to have more impact on the Medicaid program than even the House bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that means, if that's true, if that is confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, you're a no?

COLLINS: I want to wait to see the CBO analysis, but I have very serious concerns about the bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have concerns about Planned Parenthood. This bill would deny funding of Planned Parenthood for a year. I know you’re planning on introducing an amendment with Senator Murkowski that would restore the funding for Planned Parenthood. If that amendment fails, will you oppose final passage?

COLLLINS: Well, first let me say that it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. There already are longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so that’s not what this debate is about, and Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women. They should be allowed to choose the health provider that they want. That’s one of the issues that I care deeply about, but there are many others as well. I am optimistic we'll prevail on that issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think you’ll prevail on the amendment, but if you don't—I understand you have other concerns with the bill as well—is Planned Parenthood funding a bottom line for you? If this bill denies funding to Planned Parenthood, are you against it?

COLLINS: It is one of many factors and a very important one that I will consider in casting my vote, but I’m also very concerned about the Medicaid cuts, what it means to our most vulnerable citizens. I am very concerned about the costs of insurance premiums and deductibles, particularly for that very vulnerable group between the age of 50 and 64. They are particularly at risk based on my initial analysis. I’m going to look at the whole bill before making a decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are there a critical mass? We know that Senator Paul and three other conservatives want more repeal from their perspective. How many more senators do you believe share your views on Medicaid?

COLLINS: Well, there are several of us who have been meeting under the leadership of Senator Rob Portman to look at the Medicaid provisions, and there are about seven to eight people in that group. I can't speak for them, but sufficive to say they are certainly concerned, and that’s why the CBO analysis quantifying the cuts and the impact is going to be so important. You can't take over $800 billion out of the Medicaid program and not expect that it's going to have an impact on a rural nursing home that relies on Medicaid for 70 percent of the costs of its patients. So this is an access issue as well as one having to do with cost.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the bill pass this week?

COLLINS: It’s hard for me to see the bill passing this week, but that's up to the majority leader. We could well be in all night a couple of nights, working through what will be an open amendment process. I think that -- that at least is good. The process could have been a lot better. I would have liked to have seen the Democrats step up to the table and negotiate with us now, not wait until this bill is either passed or defeated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Collins, thanks for your time this morning.

COLLINS: Thank you, George.