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Murkowski: ObamaCare fix not a precondition for tax vote

Murkowski: ObamaCare fix not a precondition for tax vote
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: Palin unpopular in Alaska following jab at Murkowski Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Ex-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party MORE (R-Alaska) said Friday that passing a bipartisan ObamaCare bill is not necessarily a precondition for her to support a tax bill that repeals ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

The statement posted on Murkowski’s Facebook page appeared to clarify comments she made to Roll Call on Thursday, which seemed to suggest that the bipartisan ObamaCare bill from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.) was a prerequisite for her vote for the tax bill.

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“I have consistently said that passing Alexander/Murray is important to stabilizing the individual market and it may be particularly so if the individual mandate is repealed as included in the draft reported by the Senate Finance Committee last night,” Murkowski said in the statement Friday. “However, one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.”

The Alaska senator said she is still considering the tax bill, which advanced from the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday night and is slated to be brought to the Senate floor after Thanksgiving.

“Like many of my colleagues, I am reviewing the good work of the Finance Committee over the Thanksgiving Holiday,” she said. “I plan to look at the entire package before coming to any conclusion on the legislation.”

Murkowski’s previous comments to Roll Call on Thursday received quick attention for seeming to suggest that Alexander-Murray was necessary to secure her support for tax reform.

“I think that there is a path and I think the path is a reasonable path,” Murkowski said then. “If the Congress is going to move forward with repeal of the individual mandate, we absolutely must have the Alexander-Murray piece that is passed into law.”

Murkowski and another moderate, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality MORE (R-Maine), have suggested that the Alexander-Murray bill could ease their concerns about destabilizing ObamaCare markets by repealing the individual mandate in the tax bill. However, Democrats have rejected that trade, saying they will block the bipartisan bill if Republicans keep mandate repeal in the tax plan.

Several experts also say that Alexander-Murray, which is aimed at stabilizing markets by continuing key payments for insurers, would not cancel out the effects of repealing the mandate, which could lead to a lack of healthy people signing up and a rise in premiums.

The Congressional Budget Office has found that repealing the mandate could increase premiums by 10 percent, but that markets would continue to be stable in almost all areas of the country.

Republicans can only afford two defections in the Senate and still advance their tax plan, assuming all Democrats vote against it, with Vice President Pence casting a tie-breaking vote.