Susan Collins wants to talk housing, but there’s far more interest in her vote on Obamacare repeal

Good morning from Augusta. All eyes are on Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal bill, with an undecided U.S. Sen. Susan Collins facing protesters today and a leaked federal government estimate contradicting others to say Maine could gain under it.

Collins could face some protesters around a speech today in Portland. She is scheduled to make a speech at the Maine Affordable Housing Conference at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. A group called Care NOT Cuts is trying to gather supporters to picket outside the hotel to call on Collins to vote against the bill. The moderate Republican told Maine Public on Thursday that she’s waiting for a Congressional Budget Office report before deciding how she’ll vote.

A Trump administration estimate says Maine would gain under repeal. Axios published a leaked set of figures on Thursday night from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which said Maine would gain 44 percent more federal health care funding by 2026 under the bill from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Cassidy has said that Maine would benefit, but hasn’t provided figures. These may be those.

But there could be a flaw there. Axios said it’s unclear whether the estimate they published includes traditional Medicaid funding. That was the rub for Maine in a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released on Thursday: It said a per-enrollee cap on Medicaid funding would more than offset a funding gain for the state relative to the Affordable Care Act, making us a net loser.

What are Maine’s independents up to?

Another one made his gubernatorial run official. Freeport communications consultant Alan Caron teased a 2018 run earlier this month, but he officially filed on Wednesday. Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes is the only other independent running to replace Gov. Paul LePage so far.

And Maine’s independent U.S. senator co-sponsored an addiction treatment bill. It would help physicians treat people who are addicted by making medical information available between multiple doctors, but only if the patient gives consent. It’s named after a Michigan woman who battled addiction for seven years and suffered a running injury after becoming sober. A discharging doctor didn’t know she was in recovery for addiction and sent her home with oxycodone, which killed her.

Reading list

  • A judge will decide if a missing Waterville toddler will be declared dead. It’s the latest development in the case of Ayla Reynolds, who disappeared in December 2011. Her mother, Trista Reynolds, wants a Cumberland County probate judge to declare her dead to pursue legal action against Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro. The 20-month-old disappeared from his house in late 2011. Police found Ayla’s blood in the basement in 2012. DiPietro hasn’t been charged, but the Maine State Police have said he has withheld information and that they suspect foul play. The first probate hearing was on Thursday.
  • King wants to move Election Day to the weekend. The Associated Press reports that Maine’s junior U.S. senator said he supports a proposal by Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, to move Election Day from the Tuesday after the first Monday in November to the first full weekend.
  • People who want to live in tiny houses are trying to coax Maine to put building standards in place. The Maine Technical Building Codes and Standards Board held a hearing on the issue, which is being pushed by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, on Monday. The rules would govern the construction of homes as little as 100 square feet.
  • North Korea’s leader called President Donald Trump deranged and said he will “pay dearly” for threats during a speech to the United Nations. Kim Jong-un said in a statement to his state media he is still “thinking hard” about what he will do in retaliation.

Watch your step

Today’s the first day of fall, but the U.S. Senate wants you to stay upright while celebrating that fact. The Senate voted unanimously to designate today as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, according to a release from Collins’ office, which notes that fall-related medical care for older adults costs about $34 billion each year.

As baby boomers hit their 60s — that’s me — and older, that cost is expected to almost double in the next five years. I do admit that I run through a mental version of the iconic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial and grab the railing more tightly every time I stand at the top of the worn marble stairs in the State House.

If I’m going to be a “Mrs. Fletcher” from Maine, it’s going to be crime-solving writer Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, not that poor woman sprawled on the floor of her living room. You should be careful too. Falling hurts at any age. Here’s our soundtrack. — Robert Long

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.