Collins: More Republican senators have concerns about health care bill

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WASHINGTON — Eight to 10 Republican U.S. senators have serious concerns about Republican health care legislation to roll back Obamacare, moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins, who opposes the bill, said Sunday.

The Senate, which is delaying its consideration of the bill while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recuperates from surgery to remove a blood clot, will take it up as soon as all senators are available, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

McCain’s absence casts doubt on whether the Senate would be able to pass legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic former president Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, commonly known as Obamacare.

Collins is one of two Republican senators who have already said that they would not even vote to open debate on the latest version of the bill released Thursday, meaning one more defection from the Republican ranks could kill it.

With the Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, the Republicans can only pass the bill if 50 of 52 members back it and if Republican Vice President Mike Pence casts his tiebreaking vote in favor.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday showed Americans preferred Obamacare by a 2-to-1 margin.

“There are about eight to 10 Republican senators who have serious concerns about this bill,” Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, faulting the bill for its major cuts to the Medicaid government health insurance program for the poor, which she said would harm rural hospitals and nursing homes.

“I don’t know whether it will pass, but I do know this, we should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years — the Medicaid program — without having a single hearing to evaluate what the consequences are going to be,” she added.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also reiterated his opposition to the bill, which he described as “terrible” because it retained many of the Obamacare taxes and subsidies.

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