McCowski? Murkowski Joins McCain In Calling For Bipartisan Approach To Health Care

Robert Donachie | Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Wednesday that she would like to see Republicans and Democrats work together on the next major health care reform bill.

“You know what, I think it needs to be bipartisan,” Murkowski said of any future bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Alaskan senator told reporters that she is already working with Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Patty Murray of Washington, who spent the better part of September in the Senate Health committee trying to come up with a bipartisan solution to fix Obamacare and strengthen the individual marketplace.

Murkowski was a key last-minute holdout against Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana’s proposal to repeal major features of Obamacare and fundamentally change the program’s funding mechanism.

While three GOP Senators — John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — announced that they would vote “no” on Graham-Cassidy, Murkowski was a bit more nuanced in her response to the bill, not coming down definitively on either side.

She instead said she needed more time and information to come to a decision.

“I am insisting that there are elements of the ACA that must be saved, that must be preserved. For example, we must continue to prohibit insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions … as long as this legislature wants to keep [Medicaid] expansion, Alaska should have the option — so I will not vote to repeal it,” Murkowski told reporters Monday.

The Alaskan senator said Wednesday that she withheld her opinion on the bill because “we weren’t having a vote on it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tabled Graham-Cassidy Tuesday afternoon, after it became clear that the party’s eleventh-hour push to upend the American health care system would not pass.

“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol. “We aren’t going to be able to do it this week. But it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.”

Graham told The Daily Caller News Foundation that his plan to repeal major portions of the Obamacare will come up for a vote after the party pushes tax reform.

“What I would expect is that we take a clear shot at taxes. We’ll use the time to come up with a better process for health care,” Graham said. “We will have a debate worthy of a great country and when taxes are over early next year, which is what I envision, we’ll go back to repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

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