U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, reportedly walked away — initially toward the women’s restroom by mistake — from a journalist who asked Tuesday if the Maine congressman had decided yet whether to support the latest Republican health overhaul bill.

Poliquin’s reported refusal to take a stance on the evolving American Health Care Act comes after a spate of similar cases in which Poliquin has dodged reporter questions about his views — most notably involving whether he supported then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and earlier versions of the GOP health legislation.

The Tuesday encounter with Poliquin was reported by Jim Newell in a story published by Slate, headlined “Trumpcare in Hiding: Here are the absurd lengths to which moderate Republicans are going to keep their Trumpcare votes secret.” Newell said he was describing “a taste of what it’s like trying to pin down an undecided Republican member of Congress” as pressure mounts on reluctant GOP members to get behind the health overhaul bill — which failed to win enough support in March to even get a vote in the House.

On Tuesday, Poliquin was walking out of the House Republican conference’s morning meeting when Newell reported that he asked the congressman if he had arrived at a decision.

Poliquin “said nothing and made a beeline to the restroom,” Newell wrote. “Unfortunately it was the door to the women’s restroom that he had first run to, so he corrected himself and went into the men’s room. When he emerged several minutes later, he was wearing his earbuds and scurried away.” Newell goes on to describe other instances of GOP representatives avoiding taking a stance on the proposal.

Asked Wednesday to respond to the Slate story, Poliquin spokesman Brendan Conley called it “farcical reporting.”


“When you gotta go, you gotta go,” Conley said via email.

As for the latest health legislation, “news is just now coming in on additional changes to the legislation,” Conley said. “The Congressman has yet to see those changes and to evaluate them.”

Just hours before the health bill was pulled from a House vote on March 24, Conley declined to say if Poliquin had a public stance on the bill, instead saying Poliquin was “continuing to carefully study and push for changes in this health care relief proposal.” Poliquin has been vocal about opposing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and has said previously he urged Trump and House leadership to push for increased benefits for those nearing retirement and families living in rural areas under a Republican replacement bill.

The rest of Maine’s congressional delegation — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, as well as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent — have said previously they opposed the proposed GOP bill. Democrats have remained solidly opposed to the legislation.

About 80,000 Mainers have ACA insurance, although Maine is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid, which is a key aspect of the ACA in extending health insurance.

Aside from the GOP health bill, Poliquin also previously refused during the last presidential campaign to say whether he supported then-candidate Trump. On Oct. 11, following a tour of the New Balance shoe factory in Skowhegan, Poliquin was speaking with assembled media when he ignored reporters’ questions about Trump. Poliquin talked instead about efforts to help manufacturers like the shoe factory and said he’s “not getting involved in any of this media circus,” before walking away when pressed again on Trump.


As Poliquin’s spokesman said Tuesday the congressman hadn’t yet evaluated developing changes to the bill, a pair of moderate Republicans who’d been holdouts — Reps. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, and Billy Long, R-Missouri, said they were now backing the legislation. Republicans leaders made no announcement of a vote and it wasn’t yet clear if proposed revisions would draw enough support.

Critics say the legislation erodes protections under the Affordable Care Act by opening the door for insurers to charge unaffordable premiums to people with pre-existing illnesses. Upton and Long propose $8 billion over five years to help some people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage.

In an opinion piece published in March in the Kennebec Journal/ Morning Sentinel, Poliquin called the original Republican health plan “a first step.”

“This proposal includes a number of successful common sense reforms, some of which Maine has already used, including making sure nobody is denied health insurance if they want it; no lifetime caps on coverage; family members up to age 26 can be covered on their parents’ plans; and coverage for pre-existing health conditions,” Poliquin wrote at the time.

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