PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage is blasting Maine's U.S. senators as "dangerous" over their votes that helped sink a GOP proposal to repeal President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The governor targeted Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, writing that they "are worse than out of touch — they are downright dangerous."
"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," the governor wrote.
Collins returned home to applause at the Bangor International Airport after she joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. John McCain of Arizona as one of three Republicans to vote against the GOP health care proposal.
The GOP proposal was rejected by a 51-49 vote and King praised Collins for putting Maine residents ahead of party politics.
On Wednesday, the senators defended themselves in a statement in which they said they met with thousands of people to discuss improving the health care system, and concluded that the GOP proposals would've eliminated insurance for millions, raised premiums, hurt rural hospitals and shifted costs to states.
"After months of conversations and research, we both reached the same inescapable conclusion that the Senate health care bill would have been extremely harmful to our state, particularly to our most vulnerable populations, including children with disabilities and low-income seniors," they said.
In the op-ed, LePage chided King for expanding Medicaid coverage while serving as governor, saying it nearly bankrupted the state. He said providing health care coverage to able-bodied adults through Medicaid is "tantamount to giving them another welfare entitlement."
Medicaid covers low-income and disabled people, along with many in nursing homes.
LePage's remarks follow a pattern of attacks against Collins, a moderate Republican, and King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.
The day before, he described the health care vote by Collins and King as "disgusting" during a radio show appearance.
Collins is considering whether to stay in the Senate or run for governor. LePage told a gathering of the Somerset County Republican Committee last weekend that Collins will "back down" in her gubernatorial aspirations if the party's conservative base signals a difficult primary fight.
There's no love for King, either. The governor has threatened to run against King, who's up for re-election next year.
© 2017 Associated Press