Murkowski: 'I just truly do not know' if I can support GOP health bill

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump nominee won't say if he supports funding agency he was selected to run Kavanaugh has 'productive' meeting with key swing votes Budowsky: Collins, Murkowski and Kavanaugh MORE (R-Alaska), a potential key swing vote on an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan, isn’t sure she could support the emerging Senate Republican healthcare bill.

When asked Thursday if she had confidence she could eventually support a bill, Murkowski said she didn’t know. 

“I just truly do not know, because I don’t know where it’s going,” she said.

Murkowski wouldn’t commit when asked if she would support a seven-year phaseout of the Medicaid expansion, which some moderate GOP senators are pushing. Nor would she say whether she would support a slower phaseout or a faster one.  

“My position on Medicaid expansion and my support for it hasn’t changed," Murkowski said.

The Alaska Republican has previously said she wouldn’t vote to repeal the Medicaid expansion if the Alaska state Legislature wants to keep it. And she was one of four senators who sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Name change eludes DHS cyber wing, spurring frustration MORE (R-Ky.) in early March saying they couldn't support a bill that didn't have protections for people in the Medicaid expansion population.

A group of moderate Republican senators led by Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate panel spars with Trump administration over treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children Senate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Senators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs MORE (Ohio) want to gradually phase out federal funding for Medicaid expansion over a seven-year period from 2020 to 2027. Senators such as Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate GOP battles for leverage with House on spending Lawmakers, media team up for charity tennis event The Hill's Morning Report — Trump picks new fight with law enforcement, intelligence community MORE (W.Va.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape Battle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest MORE (Nev.) have also recently spoken in support of the seven-year plan.

Medicaid is one of the biggest stumbling blocks on the path to repealing ObamaCare, and if moderates can support an eventual end to the Medicaid expansion, a compromise could be reached.

Senate leaders can only afford to lose two votes when they bring the legislation the floor. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if enough moderates can be convinced to support the bill, McConnell may not need conservative Republicans such as Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy Rand Paul takes victory lap after Brennan's security clearance revoked Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance MORE (Ky.) or Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Ex-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer Facebook cracks down on 3D guns MORE (Utah) to help pass the measure.

Closed-door discussions about the substance of the bill have been happening almost daily since the House voted last month, but the secretive nature of the process has left many senators unsure of what’s actually being included in the package.