Following the delay of a Senate vote on the health care bill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Democrats should be involved in the replacement of Obamacare. Murkowski made the comments to a MSNBC reporter on Tuesday afternoon, where she discussed other concerns she has with the health care bill.
“Absolutely,” she said throwing up her hands. “The Congress of the United States, whether you’re Republican or Democrat in the House or Senate, shouldn’t we all be working together on the problems that are part in parcel of who we are as Americans? This is not for Republicans to fix or Democrats to fix, this is for us as Americans to fix. When did we get to the point where we said no, we’re not going to talk to Democrats about a fix? We should be working with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we should be working with our colleagues in the other chamber. ”
Here’s the full segment as posted by Murkowski’s office.
Murkowski and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan have so far declined to say whether they’ll vote for a bill, but both said they supported the delay. The hurried pace of the Senate has clearly been difficult for both Republicans as they’ve tried to negotiate exemptions or changes that would ease the impact on Alaska.
Their votes will be critical for the passage of the bill, as support is already shaky. At least four conservative Republicans and one moderate Republican said they would likely be no votes on the bill in the lead up to the vote. The Senate can only afford to lose two votes.
Latest on Murkowski
Attention has been laser-focused on Murkowski as the Senate works on its health care bill. She’s staked out positions that align her Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who’s already said she would be a no vote on the bill. In a tweet Wednesday, Murkowski said she’s happy to have more time.
“Happy we have more time to address Alaskan priorities in the healthcare bill,” she said. “This was a good step. As I said before, we need to do it right.”
One of the issues that unites Murkowski and Collins is the issue of Planned Parenthood funding. The Senate bill proposes defunding the program for one year.
“People support greater access to health care,” she said when asked about the move. “Planned Parenthood provides for that, provides for greater access particularly to lower income women for purposes of screening services that I think are important. When we’re talking about health care reform, shouldn’t it be about increasing access? I’m talking to Alaska and that’s what they’re telling me is important.”
Collins and Murkowski plan to offer an amendment to restore the funding, Murkowski confirmed this with the ADN.
The two have tried it before. In a 2015 repeal of Obamacare that passed the Senate, the two ran a similar amendment. When it failed 48-52 Collins voted against the bill, but Murkowski eventually voted in favor of the repeal.
This year Murkowski said she didn’t support a bill that defunding Planned Parenthood. Demonstrations throughout Alaska today hope to keep her true to her word.
Latest on Sullivan
The pressure hasn’t been as heavy for Sullivan, but ad campaigns that have typically focused solely on Murkowski have begun including him. For his part, Sullivan said he supports the delay on the vote.
“I support Senate leadership’s decision to withhold the vote in order to better address the concerns of members. I also appreciate being invited to the White House with my colleagues for a very productive meeting with President Trump and Vice President Pence,” he said in a prepared statement. “As we move forward, I will continue to work on the draft of the Senate bill to make it better for Alaskans by continuing to focus on what’s worked under the Affordable Care Act—like continued coverage for those with preexisting conditions— and to replace it with a bill that will better serve our state.”
His statement also gives a nod to short-term and long-term stability and innovation funds included in the Senate bill. Both of those accounts include tends of billions of additional dollars that states can apply for to help ease the sting of reduced or eliminated subsidies. Alaska, with its highest in the country costs, would be an ideal candidate for the funding.
“I believe that we can achieve those goals by stabilizing our health insurance system, giving Alaska the flexibility to craft plans that work for our citizens to address the high cost of healthcare and insurance, and providing a sustainable and equitable path forward for Medicaid,” he said.