AUGUSTA — Two groups of demonstrators expressed their concerns Friday in Augusta about Republican efforts to overhaul health care, urging U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to reject the new Senate version out of fear that thousands in Maine will lose coverage.

Just before speaking at a YMCA event at the Senator Inn & Spa, Collins said she will look at the effect on people, premiums and providers before she decides how to vote.

As a moderate Republican and one who has not yet signaled her intention, Collins is seen as a key vote.

“As of now, my initial analysis is one of deep concern over cuts in the Medicaid program, the impact on premiums to those between the ages of 50 and 64 and the possible effect on the number of people who have insurance,” she said in an interview with the Kennebec Journal.

Anne Lunt of Augusta was part of a small group of people holding signs about the health care bill during a demonstration Friday in front of the Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building on Western Avenue in Augusta.

The 142-page Senate bill, drafted behind closed doors and without hearings, was released Thursday.

“I have told the leaders that I will not vote to proceed with the bill until we have (the) CBO analysis,” she said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is responsible for analyzing the bill’s effects.

Collins said one group that will benefit is those people who earn $12,000 and under and are not currently covered.

“In the meantime, it’s clear we have to fix parts of the ACA,” she said, referring to the Affordable Care Act. “Several of the markets are fragile and on the verge of collapse in some states.”

The ACA has been the target of repeal attempts by Republicans since it was enacted.

Protesters from Mainers for Accountable Leadership who gathered Friday across from the Senator Inn & Spa said they are concerned for themselves and their families should the Republican health care bills pass.

Nearly two dozen members waited to see whether Collins would pass their way.

April Humphrey said her group doesn’t trust Collins. “We feel like she’s sitting on the fence. She hasn’t said she’ll vote no,” she said earlier.

At an afternoon event outside the Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building, where Collins has an office, Leah Birch Postman said she doesn’t know whether she should bother making appointments with what she describes as the many “ologists” she’s required to see, after the end of the year when her insurance runs out.

The Winthrop woman and former veterinarian was left disabled after complications from her body’s reaction to a 2013 colonoscopy. She said her insurance through COBRA, a federal program that allows some employees to receive health insurance after leaving employment, runs out at the end of the year. And she thinks the most recent proposals by federal legislators to replace the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, would make it impossible or at least extremely expensive for someone like her, with a pre-existing condition, to get health insurance.

“I will, forever, have pre-existing conditions,” the 59-year-old said before Friday’s demonstration. “What will happen when my COBRA runs out, I have no idea. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my appointments (with doctors and specialists). It’s all up in the air. And I’m certainly not alone in this.”

Postman and a half-dozen other demonstrators, some carrying signs, gathered outside the Muskie building to urge Collins to vote down the Senate version of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act that was released after weeks of secret deliberations by Republican senators.

Health care experts in Maine have criticized the latest health care proposal, saying it would cut Medicaid substantially, drive up insurance costs for elderly residents and result in millions losing health insurance.

Tammie Fowles of Wayne said she and her husband, who have a small business as landlords renting out housing, currently get their health insurance through the ACA, and they’d lose their insurance if the current bill is approved.

“It’s a given that if this bill would pass as it is, we would lose health insurance,” Fowles said. “I’m not just concerned about myself, but about the people who may need to go into nursing homes and won’t be able to any longer.”

Fowles carried a sign that said “Imagine Providing Health Care As If All Lives Mattered,” which in the words of a fellow demonstrator, Sally Brotherton of South China, “says it all.”

Anne Lunt of Augusta carried a sign urging a single-payer national health care system. It said: “Yes we can, single payer for all of U.S. Make America Healthy Again.”

Lunt also cited a comment attributed to President Trump, who is reported to have described the House health insurance reform plan, in private, as “mean.”

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: kedwardskj

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