Mainers say Sen. Collins must finally take a stand on health care repeal

Mainers say Sen. Collins must finally take a stand on health care repeal

Holding signs declaring “Time to take a stand,” advocates for access to health care gathered outside Senator Susan Collins’ regional office in Bangor on Thursday to ask the senator to actively and publicly oppose the newly-released Senate Republican health care repeal bill.

They also delivered hundreds of personal messages from Mainers across the state with their own health care stories and concerns about the proposed health care cuts.

“Collins has said previously that she wants a bill that expands coverage, not one that cuts it. If she really believes that, it’s time for her to speak out,” said Meagan Cloutier of Bangor. “This issue is personal for me. I have type one diabetes and rely on coverage for so many things–from insulin to emergency doctor’s visits or hospital trips. Without this coverage there is no way I can afford my already expensive treatments. I know I’m not the only one in this position. It’s time for her to make a stand and decide where she falls on this important issue that affects so many of us.”

The full contents of the Senate health care repeal bill became public for the first time on Wednesday, with provisions that would make deep cuts to Medicaid and strip health care from millions of Americans while giving hundreds of billions in tax breaks to high income-earners.

“It’s time for Senator Collins to live up to her past statements and to stand up for her constituents. She should oppose this bill publicly, she should do everything she can to slow down the process and not let her fellow Republicans get away with ramming it through the Senate. She should rally her colleagues against it. The lives of real people are on the line,” said Lisa Buck, a family physician practicing in Bangor.

Republicans have kept the contents of the health care bill a secret until yesterday and are planning to attempt to pass it quickly, without debate or amendments. The bill would be particularly devastating to Maine, with higher premiums for seniors, fewer options for small business owners and deep cuts to Medicaid that will undermine the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

“The Affordable Care Act provided small business owners and their employees the opportunity to access healthcare in a way they never could before,” said Laurie Osher, a small business owner from Orono. “It’s time for Senator Collins to make a decision: will she stand with local businesses and Maine seniors or will she stand with Donald Trump and those who want to give another tax break to the wealthy, paid for by cutting care?

Collins has criticized parts of the bill but has declined to say whether she will vote against it, nor has she urged her Republican colleagues to oppose it. Angus King, Maine’s other U.S. Senator, has been vocal in his opposition to the health care repeal, repeatedly speaking against it on the floor of the Senate.

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