Obamacare repeal authors sweeten deal for Maine in effort to woo Collins

Good morning from Augusta. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ decision on fellow Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal bill may now be more complicated than it was last week. On Sunday, the bill’s authors added more money to benefit Maine to try to win her vote and are expected to announce those changes today.

The Bangor Bargain? The Washington Post first reported the new version and Axios has the state-by-state estimates being circulated by the Trump administration and leaders on Capitol Hill. Maine would see 43 percent more money under the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill than under the Affordable Care Act by 2026. But those numbers come straight from supporters of the bill.

And ‘more money’ may not be more money. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis on Thursday said while Maine would see more block grant funding under the bill relative to the Affordable Care Act by 2026, it would lose money overall after counting a per-enrollee cap on Medicaid funding. This new round of estimates doesn’t appear to factor that cap in.

Is it likely to move Collins? We’re skeptical. There’s a press on to win Collins’ vote. President Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that Maine is among the “big winners” in the bill. But Collins told CNN on Sunday that it’s “very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill.” She hasn’t commented on the changes, but her criticism of the bill has been broad, so more money may not move her. Collins has been waiting for a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill to make her final decision. That report is expected early this week, but it isn’t expected to address premium impacts.

Reading list

  • Lewiston and Auburn residents will vote whether to merge the two cities this November. The move could save millions of dollars and create Maine’s 2nd-largest city, but there are a slew of problematic local considerations that could sink the bid.
  • A strike at Bath Iron Works has been narrowly avoided. The Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association, which represents 750 designers, said last week they would strike today without a deal but a new contract was ratified on Saturday.
  • Maine high schools say they can’t attract students from other countries because of the political climate. Protests, an administration trying to implement a travel ban and rising educational costs have turned what once were waiting lists into skimpy piles of applications.
  • The Maine Green Independent Party now has a member in the Legislature. It’s Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville, who left the Democratic party earlier this year and last week, enrolled as a Green. Also on Friday, Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford switched his affiliation from Democrat to independent, further shrinking the Democrats’ House majority.
  • The Bangor City Council is scheduled to make a decision today about Gov. Paul LePage’s call for a forensic psychiatric hospital in Bangor. The council is considering whether to implement a moratorium on approving the facility after dozens of residents came out against the plan to build a 21-bed facility on Hogan Road. Residents are concerned the proposed site is too close to residences. The council meets tonight.
  • Trump’s calling out the National Football League caused more protests on Sunday. Trump has said any player who kneels through the National Anthem should be fire, sparking an intense controversy between defenders of constitutional rights and Americans who think sitting out of a national anthem is unpatriotic. There were only a handful of protests last week but on Sunday, some 150 players and coaches from several teams protested.
  • Trump has called for a new travel ban that puts restrictions on North Korea, Chad and Venezuela. That expands to eight the list of countries Trump wants on his travel ban list but it’s controversial and facing legal challenges.

What’s your favorite one-hit wonder?

It’s a relevant question. According to nationaldaycalendar.com, it’s National One-Hit Wonder Day. Given how excited we are about music at the Daily Brief, this calls for some consideration.

One “best one-hit wonders” list we found had “I’m Too Sexy” at number four and the “Macarena” in the top spot, so we stopped looking at lists. We thought of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309 but it’s overplayed, and a colleague suggested Tainted Love by Soft Cell. That’s a pretty good song and a genius band name.

With so many choices, we’re at a loss so we went classic. Ever heard of Charley Ryan and The Livingston Brothers? Probably not, but that’s sort of the point. Here’s your soundtrack.

If you can think of something better email ccousins@bangordailynews.com and we’ll have something to write about in tomorrow’s Daily Brief.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.