Health reform implementation

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

Greg Nash

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (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 McConnell (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 Portman (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 Capito (W.Va.) and Dean Heller (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 Paul (Ky.) or Mike Lee (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.

Tags Dean Heller Lisa Murkowski Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Rob Portman Shelley Moore Capito

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