Sources: Graham Wrote Repeal Bill To Cater To Murkowski

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina specifically wrote his bill to repeal and replace Obamacare to provide concessions to Sen. Lisa Murkowki’s home state of Alaska, a conservative Hill staffer with first hand knowledge and one conservative strategist told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Independent Journal reported Thursday afternoon that Graham and Cassidy were trying to “buy” Murkowski’s vote through a series last-minute changes to their repeal bill before the legislation is expected to go up for a vote next week.

Sources told TheDCNF that Graham did not sell the bill to conservatives as trying to purchase Murkowski’s vote, but rather set out to craft the legislation at the outset to provide Alaska with what it needed to get to a “yes” vote.

Graham spoke with a group of conservative strategists on Sept. 13 at an invite-only event, known in Washington as the Weyrich Lunch, the day he and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana revealed their bill to repeal Obamacare. At the lunch, the senator described how he and his colleagues would have to write the legislation to cater to Alaska, whose senator, Murkowski, was a key holdout on the last 3 Republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The South Carolina senator told the conservative strategists that the bill would have to include “special carve outs for Alaska,” the Hill staffer who was present at the Weyrich lunch told TheDCNF.

“He spent two minutes talking about including special carve outs for Alaska,” the staffer said. “It was notable because Alaska was the only state he mentioned with regards to specifics during his entire speech.”

Murkowski has voted against every iteration of Obamacare repeal in 2017, and she has yet to throw her support behind Graham-Cassidy.

“I’m still looking for data that walks me through how Alaska actually does,” Murkowski told reporters Tuesday. “If it can be shown that Alaska is not going to be disadvantaged we gain additionally flexibility then I can go back to Alaskans and I can say ‘ok let’s walk through this together’…I don’t have that right now.”

Alaska’s Gov. Bill Walker warned that Graham-Cassidy would lead to “drastic cuts” to Medicaid if Congress passed the legislation.

“Given Alaska’s current fiscal challenges, any proposal to shift federal costs to the states would likely result in drastic cuts to our Medicaid program,” Walker told a local Alaskan outlet.

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