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Collins Heads Back to White House, Still Has Concerns

Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) confirmed Wednesday that she’s headed to the White House for another meeting — this time with staff — but said in a brief interview that she is still a long way from supporting the Democrats’ health care reform package.

Collins, who met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, said she continues to have “fundamental— disagreements with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) bill. Although a centrist, health care has been an issue on which Collins — Maine’s former insurance regulator — leans conservative.

The Maine Senator said she did not know enough yet to comment about the Democrats’ tentative public insurance option compromise, although she expressed concern that the proposal would reportedly expand Medicare by allowing individuals ages 55 to 64 to buy in to the program.

“The meeting with the president was an interesting discussion of the many issues. We did not resolve any issues, but we indicated that we would continue discussions,— Collins said of her Tuesday sit-down with Obama. “There are still such fundamental problems with the bill that although I’m pleased there’ve been some marginal improvements made, I’m a very long ways from being able to support the bill.—

Reid announced a “broad agreement— on Tuesday night on a compromise to the public option negotiated by a group of 10 liberal and moderate Democratic Senators. It remains unclear if the deal completely jettisons the public insurance option, one of the several problems Collins has had with Reid’s original health care package.

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