AUGUSTA — Two groups of demonstrators expressed their fear Friday in Augusta about Republican efforts to overhaul health care, urging U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to reject the newest 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 concen 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.

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 CBO analysis,” she said.

The CBO is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and it’s responsible for analyzing the the bill’s effect.

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. “Several of the markets are fragile and on the verge of collapse in some states.”

The Afforadable Care Act has been the target of repeal attempts by Republicans since it was enacted.

Protesters from Mainers for Accountable leadership gathered Friday evening on the sidewalk 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 Sen. 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 in the day.

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 a demonstration Friday targeting Collins, who could be a key vote on the bill, “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 revealed Thursday 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,” she 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 fellow demonstrator, Sally Brotherton, of South China, said, “says it all.”

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

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

The Congressional Budget Office, which has not yet weighed in with an analysis of the latest Senate plan, estimated the House plan would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance.

“I don’t agree with Trump on much, but I do agree with him (the House ACA replacement proposal) is a mean-spirited bill,” the 68-year-old Lunt said on the Western Avenue sidewalk as motorists rushed past, some honking their horns in reaction to the demonstration. “With Obamacare we were going in the right direction. Now we’re just going back to what has always been, but worse.”

She urged people to call their legislators to ask them to vote against the latest proposal to repeal the ACA.

Jimmy “Midnight” Silin, of Whitefield, also favors a move to a single payer national health care system. He said the real motivation of the Senate Republicans’ proposal is to provide a tax cut for the “extremely wealthy.”

Lunt said if she were to have a chance to speak with Collins directly she would tell her to “Vote your conscience. Do you want a health care bill that hurts many people in your state?”

Postman said repealing the ACA without replacing it with a comparable or improved plan would endanger the health of almost 100,000 Maine residents. She said while details of the Senate plan are just now coming out, the House plan was expected to result in 95,000 Maine residents losing their health coverage.

Staff writer Jessica Lowell contributed to this report.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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