Health reform implementation

GOP senator brushes off reporter asking about health plan

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Tuesday brushed off a reporter asking whether she backs her party’s ObamaCare replacement bill, with a spokesperson saying later that she has “concerns” with the House GOP plan.

“Hey, would you give me a minute to get to my constituents please?” Murkowski told CNN’s senior congressional reporter Manu Raju, walking past the reporter in a hallway when asked if she supported the current plan.

“Just a yes or no, do you support the House healthcare bill?” Raju pressed again, prompting the lawmaker to turn around.


“Would you please be respectful?” Murkowski responded, putting a hand on the journalist’s shoulder. “I’ve been sitting there for two hours. Come on.”

“I’m being very respectful,” the reporter said as the senator walked away.

Murkowski’s communications director Karina Petersen later told The Hill that Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was rushing to meetings with her constituents.

Murkowski was chairing a hearing on energy and grid-related infrastructure and was moving from one Senate office building to another to meet with several groups. 

“Her office was full of constituents,” Petersen said.

Murkowski continues to have “some concerns” with the House Republicans’ ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, her spokesperson said. The Alaska senator has been among Republicans who have pledged to vote against rolling back the Medicaid expansion.

“Murkowski has some concerns with the bill, particularly tax credits and Medicaid expansion,” she said. “The tax credits that are being proposed won’t be as helpful in a high-cost, rural state like Alaska.”

“She’s said over and over again she doesn’t support pulling the rug out from under people in terms of health insurance.”

House Republican leaders are under intense pressure to change their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation before a possible floor vote next week.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week guaranteed the measure would have 218 votes when it reaches the House floor.

GOP leaders cannot afford more than 21 defections in the House, where the measure is already opposed by at least 13 Republicans. Republicans can afford two defections in the Senate, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already ruled out supporting a plan he considers “ObamaCare Lite.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) complicated Republicans’ debate Monday by projecting the bill would leave 14 million people without health insurance next year. The bombshell estimate was larger than many analysts predicted, with the total of uninsured people increasing to 24 million by 2026.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday the White House is working on changes with House leadership by using a “manager’s amendment” that could alter the bill before it reaches the lower chamber’s floor.

Updated: 9:19 p.m.

Tags CNN Healthcare Lisa Murkowski ObamaCare Paul Ryan Rand Paul Republicans Senate
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