Maine Gov. Paul LePage slammed his state’s senators in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday night over their opposition to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, characterizing them as Washington insiders who are out of touch with the residents of they represent.
Both Republican Sen. Susan Collins and her colleague, independent Sen. Angus King, voted against legislation that would have advanced GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Collins, a consistent opponent of her party’s repeal-and-replace efforts throughout the process, was one of just three Republican lawmakers to join Democrats in voting “no,” essentially scuttling the GOP healthcare reform plans at least for the time being.
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“When it comes to providing affordable health care to the people of Maine, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are worse than out of touch—they are downright dangerous,” LePage, a Republican, wrote in the Journal of the “no” votes by the two senators. “Sadly, this is no surprise from senators who are more comfortable cutting deals in the polished marble corridors of Washington than meeting with Mainers struggling to make ends meet.”
LePage blamed King, a former Maine governor, for a 2002 Medicaid expansion that “nearly bankrupted” the state. He said King’s and Collins’ “no” votes would do the same again, leaving Maine in a financially untenable position by supporting another Medicaid expansion that is “tantamount to giving them another welfare entitlement.”
Instead, LePage championed a plan that would block-grant Medicaid money back to states, a plan he said would give states the flexibility to target money as they see fit and impose work requirements.
“Ms. Collins and Mr. King have ignored these ideas, since they are more interested in preening for the cameras than in making real progress,” the Maine governor wrote. “Though they seem unwilling to deliver on their promises of better care, at least they have given Mainers a clear sense of their priorities.”
Despite LePage’s assertion that the two senators had voted against the interests of their own constituents, Collins received an impromptu ovation last Friday in the Bangor, Maine, airport upon her arrival from Washington. She told CNN last weekend that the applause was “extraordinary, heartwarming, and affirming.”