When Sen. Susan Collins got off the plane in Bangor last Friday, she was reportedly greeted with a spontaneous round of applause for her vote to help kill the Senate Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

But some Republicans, namely Gov. Paul LePage, are not so pleased with her for taking a stand against her party. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by LePage lambasting Collins and Sen. Angus King for their votes against the health insurance repeal bill.

“When it comes to providing affordable health care to the people of Maine, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are worse than out of touch — they are downright dangerous,” wrote LePage. He later added, “Sadly, this is no surprise from senators who are more comfortable cutting deals in the polished marble corridors of Washington than meeting with Mainers struggling to make ends meet in Lewiston, Millinocket or Fort Kent. Ms. Collins is a Republican, but last week, unconscionably, she did not support her party’s effort to repeal ObamaCare.”

The governor’s sudden support for the Senate Republican bill is a sharp departure from his earlier position. On June 28, he told the Associated Press after meeting with Collins earlier that morning in?Washington that he opposed the bill because it didn’t go far enough.

In a radio appearance Tuesday, the governor said that he has “great admiration” for Collins but that “she’s not familiar with what’s happening in her state.”

“The Maine people, our elderly, our nursing homes, people with pre-existing conditions are getting hammered because she did not do her homework and didn’t come to the state and sit with us,” said LePage.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Senate bill would have left 22 million more people uninsured. The measure would have also capped spending in Medicaid, amounting to a $770 billion cut to the program by 2026, according to the CBO. As the Maine Center for Economic Policy noted in a briefing, Maine would have been hit especially hard because it has a large number of people on MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, and it receives a higher reimbursement rate than other states.



In a joint statement responding to the governor’s vitriolic screed, Sen. Collins and Sen. King said that after meeting with consumers, health care providers, insurance regulators and actuaries, they came to the “inescapable conclusion” that the Senate health care bill would have been “extremely harmful to the state, particularly for childen with disabilities and low-income seniors.

“Every version of the Senate plan would have increased the number of uninsured by millions and weakened important consumer protections,” the two senators stated. “Premiums and out-of-pocket costs — which are already too high — also would have skyrocketed. For example, a 60-year-old couple earning $65,000 in Aroostook County would have faced a premium increase of 40 percent, to $37,291 per year under the Senate plan.”

The pair added that the plan would have driven already struggling rural hospitals out of business.

The governor’s latest series of attacks against Maine’s two senators comes as the governor considers a run to unseat King and Collins weighs a run for the Blaine House. Over the weekend, LePage reportedly told party faithful at the Somerset County Republican Committee pig roast in Canaan that he will work to defeat Collins if she decides to run for governor.

“If the Republican base — which is the 290,000 people that voted for me (in his 2014 re-election) — tell her, ‘We don’t want you; you’re not winning the primary,’ she’ll back down,” LePage reportedly said, in a video provided by an anonymous source to the Bangor Daily News.

According to the latest Morning Consult polls, Collins is the sixth most popular senator in the country, while LePage is the 9th least popular governor. However, a 2014 Public Policy Polling poll found that Collins is much more popular among Democrats and independents than Republicans. Forty-four percent of Republicans polled said they would prefer someone “more conservative” than Collins.

Meanwhile, LePage says he nows the identity of the leaker who provided the video to the Bangor Daily News and he says that makes him more likely to jump into the primary race against Republican Eric Brakey to unseat Angus King. “He was a Republican who is raising money for another campaign and that helps me make my mind up when that level of character is in a national race,” said LePage.