LePage: ‘Thank you, Susan Collins’ for Obamacare insurer’s exit

Good morning from Augusta. Gov. Paul LePage gave a sarcastic “thank you” to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday after Anthem said it would leave Maine’s Affordable Care Act marketplace … after she opposed a repeal bill that Anthem’s trade group said was bad.

The governor escalated his battle with the senator. Collins announced that she’d oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill on Monday, keeping it from a Senate vote after she opposed Republicans’ last repeal bid in July. LePage has criticized her for that decision this week, but on Thursday he blamed her for Anthem’s departure effective next year, telling WGAN, “Thank you, Susan Collins.” But that deserves some unpacking.

Anthem’s trade group said Graham-Cassidy would ‘further’ destabilize insurance markets. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group that represents it, told Congress this week that Graham-Cassidy would have “negative consequences on consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market.”

Insurers don’t like existing law. But they like some of it. That same statement noted existing uncertainty in Affordable Care Act markets and hit Graham-Cassidy for keeping taxes that insurers oppose. Anthem supported one main piece of Republicans’ earlier replacement plan — continuing the current cost-sharing subsidies that lower insurance for low-income people. Graham-Cassidy would have repealed them.

And what’s the word from Collins? Spokeswoman Annie Clark said in an email that Graham-Cassidy “did not provide the certainty” Anthem “needed to stay in the market,” noting the repeal of cost-sharing subsidies. She said bipartisan talks to stabilize the law must restart in Senate health committee that Collins sits on.

Reading list

  • Garrett Mason is now ready to run for governor after the death of his mother. The Maine Senate majority leader told the BDN that the late state Rep. Gina Mason “would want nothing more than for me to continue this campaign and win.” The 32-year-old Republican would be Maine’s youngest elected governor and run as a Clean Election candidate, despite voting earlier this year to strip gubernatorial candidates from the program. He’ll hold a rally in Lewiston tonight.
  • LePage threatened to sue Bangor on Wednesday after city councilors placed a moratorium on his proposed psychiatric facility. He sent mixed messages on the subject on Wednesday, telling WLBZ he’d sue the city under the Americans with Disabilities Act after the six-month moratorium. But LePage told Fox 22 “we’ll just move on to go find another community” if it’s not wanted in Bangor, which conformed more to the official line from his office.
  • The Maine People’s Alliance is attempting to create a new tax for what the progressive group considers to be “wealthy” Mainers. Again. The organization announced Wednesday that it’s beginning to collect the 61,123 signatures necessary to put a question on the November 2018 ballot. The initiative would sweep a total of 3.8 percent in payroll taxes — estimated to be about $132 million a year — into a fund to pay for in-home care for elderly and disabled Mainers, regardless of their income. The new tax would hit people with annual incomes above $127,200.
  • Missing toddler Ayla Reynolds is dead, a court ruled on Wednesday. The girl has not been seen since 2011 and her maternal family and investigators have lost hope that she could be alive. They want to launch a civil wrongful death suit against Ayla’s father and others. On Wednesday, Probate Court Judge Joseph Mazziotti ruled that legally, Ayla is dead. Here’s her soundtrack, which her mother once told the BDN was Ayla’s favorite song.

No idea what time it is

Today started with a jolt. I try to pull my weight here at the Daily Brief and wake up early enough to make a decent contribution. Mike Shepherd is hard to match with all his Obamacare news.

Today I’m on assignment in Fort Kent, which is nestled against the Canadian border in one of the horns of Maine. I’m so close to foreign soil that my clock, or my computer — I don’t know which — thinks I’m over the border. At first glance this morning, one read 7:34 a.m. and the other read 8:34 a.m. In either case, I overslept.

My apologies if your Daily Brief arrived an hour early today. Or an hour late. If it hasn’t arrived at all, you can blame Mike. Here’s my soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

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.

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.