During a Friday morning speech in which she announced she’ll forgo a run for governor and stay in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) criticized Senate Republican leadership for shutting women out of the process of developing health care legislation.
Amid a broader critique of the secretive process Republicans used in their failed attempts to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, Collins decried that “the Senate Republican health care bills were drafted behind closed doors — by the way it was a group of 13 men who did it, but that’s just another little issue.”
There are five women among the 52 Republicans in the Senate —Collins, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Joni Ernst (IA), Deb Fischer (NE), and Shelley Moore Capito (WV).
But the Senate health care working group that began work on Obamacare repeal legislation in May didn’t include a single woman — many of whom opposed aspects of the effort. In May, Politico reported that Collins and Murkowski “both oppose the bill’s attempts to defund Planned Parenthood,” which is a primary health care provider for millions of women, gender minorities, and low-income Americans.
During her speech, Collins also criticized the Trump administration’s recent moves to undermine Obamacare. She said she’s “very concerned” about the executive order President Trump signed on Thursday that will destabilize Affordable Care Act exchanges by allowing healthy people to purchase cheaper plans that are less comprehensive. And she critiqued the Trump administration’s announcement on Thursday night that it will stop paying vital subsidies that help insurers cover costs associated with insuring people with modest incomes.
Collins called upon lawmakers to “stabilize the insurance markets very quickly,” adding, “The point is, when we’re dealing with an issue that affects millions of Americans, we need to understand the consequences of what we’re doing — not vote in the middle of the night on bills that have had no substantive hearing and little analysis.”
Collins played a key role in killing the Obamacare repeal bill that failed by a single vote in the Senate in July, and in preventing a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill that Senate Republican leadership unsuccessfully pushed late last month. Both bills would have stripped tens of millions of Americans of coverage.
On Friday, Collins said that “getting health care reform right requires starting it right, with a commitment to public hearings, open negotiations, thoughtful and fact-based discussion, and a willingness to find common ground.”
“Surely there should be an attempt to find common ground on an issue that affects each and every one of us, as well as one-sixth of our economy,” she added.