Good morning from Augusta. An analysis released Tuesday showed that two Affordable Care Act fixes backed by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins could offset the premium impact of repealing the law’s individual mandate — but only if they can pass and that’s a big if.
The analysis didn’t examine the individual mandate’s repeal, but it can be paired with another to arrive at an approximate net impact. The Avalere Health analysis says bills to restart cost-sharing subsidies halted by the Trump administration and provide $10 billion over two years to help states cover high-cost patients would reduce premiums by 18 percent. However, that’s over current law. The analysis didn’t examine a mandate repeal, which it says could overshadow those figures. But the Congressional Budget Office has said scrapping the mandate would hike premiums by 10 percent in most years, so it could decrease premiums on net.
But there is lots of uncertainty and more people would likely still be uninsured. Avalere’s Chris Sloan said the Collins-backed changes could offset premium increases caused by losing the mandate. Either way, they would be “definitely a good thing for the market,” he said. However, the CBO said losing the mandate would result in 4 million more uninsured people by 2019 and Avalere said the two provisions would increase enrollment under current law by a relatively paltry 1.3 million people by then, making for a loss. But maybe more would want insurance if premiums go down. Maybe insurers would exit the market if the mandate is lost. Sloan said he can’t say for sure whether it would mitigate or partially mitigate the loss.
Also, this may all be a moot point since other Republicans are cool to Collins’ demands. The Maine Republican has a deal in hand from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to pass those two stabilizing bills by year’s end. But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is reportedly not behind that deal and no final bill is passing without House Republican buy-in. So take Collins’ “deal” with a grain of salt for now.
LePage is stumping for a Lewiston mayoral candidate today
Gov. Paul LePage is scheduled to appear with candidate Shane Bouchard this afternoon at Simones Restaurant in Lewiston. Bouchard, a sitting city councilor, faces a Dec. 12 runoff election against Democratic Maine People’s Alliance employee Ben Chin. The winner will replace outgoing Republican mayor Robert Macdonald. LePage has long been an adversary of Chin, once saying Chin should be jailed for his work on behalf of a 2016 referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage.
- Here we go again. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Trump wants Gov. Paul LePage to run against U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018. LePage suggested in the past that he would run against King, but ruled it out in May. Reportedly, Trump adviser Stephen Bannon later asked LePage’s wife, Ann, to run against King, but she has shown no signs of doing so. State Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn is the only Republican candidate at the moment.
- KIng and Collins suggest it’s time for Al Franken to leave the Senate. As a growing number of Democratic senators urged Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota to leave, Collins tweeted Wednesday that it would be best for the Senate if he heeded their call and King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said, “I think it’s time for my friend to resign.” Franken has scheduled a news conference today, at which he is expected to resign.
- Oxford County is getting a new sheriff. Sheriff Wayne Gallant, a third-term Democrat, stepped down Wednesday amid allegations that he sexually harassed employees. Gallant previously admitted to sending a lewd photo of himself while in uniform from his office. Gov. Paul LePage will appoint a successor to complete Gallant’s term. Maine law says when county offices are vacated, the governor must choose a replacement from recommendations from the county committee of the party to which the last officeholder belonged. No timeline has been set to name a replacement. Oxford County officials, who asked LePage to remove Gallant from office, say they did not cut a deal with Gallant to spur him to resign.
- The toll of sexual abuse extends beyond headlines. A survivor of childhood sexual assault and people who work to help survivors told the BDN’s Beth Brogan that the impact is far-reaching and that the heightened national attention requires Mainers to think carefully about how they discuss sexual abuse and how they help survivors cope.
A solemn observance
Flags are at half staff today to mark the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 Americans died and another 1,178 were injured as a result of the sneak attack that pulled the U.S. into World War II.
My wife’s grandfather, Leo Vogel, was one of the sailors who survived the attack and went on to help defeat the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. He’s no longer with us, but reportedly there are between 2,000 and 2,500 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive. Here’s a powerful story about one of them, the last living member of the Navy band stationed in Hawaii at the time of the attack. But we’ll take a break from music for today’s soundtrack. — Robert Long.
Yesterday’s Daily Brief said a legislative task force on Maine’s opioid crisis was scheduled to deliver policy recommendations on Wednesday. That was its original deadline, but the panel got an extension from legislative leaders and will present them on Dec. 12.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd 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.