Fresh off a meeting with the National Governors Association over the weekend, Gov. Bill Walker has joined 10 other Republican and Democratic governors to oppose the latest effort to repeal Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to just repeal Obamacare after the collapse of a widely unpopular replacement. The repeal would be delayed two years, giving Congress time to come up with a replacement.
Walker and the other governors say such a uncertain repeal is unacceptable.
“The Senate should immediately reject efforts to ‘repeal’ the current system and replace sometime later. This could leave millions of Americans without coverage. The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets.”
The statement implores Congress to include governors in the conversation of a new health care bill. The replacement efforts were privy to a select few Republicans, locking out even critical votes like Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski from the discussions.
Other senators on the letter include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval and Kasich are particularly outspoken against the GOP efforts to replace Obamacare. Kasich’s been worried about its impact on opioid addiction, saying proposed extra money wasn’t enough.
Those were concerns similarly echoed by Walker when talking about the cuts to Medicaid and Medicaid expansion, which he said would undercut the state’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Walker declared Alaska’s opioid epidemic as a state disaster earlier this year and put additional resources and attention to combating the problem.
His efforts on the opioid epidemic also won him respect at the National Governors Association conference, where Walker said he met with many other governors to discuss the response. That also include Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker, who also signed today’s statement.
Here’s the full statement.
Walker opposed GOP replacement, too
Walker said in a news conference Monday that he opposed the latest revision to the GOP health care bill, which would die just a few hours later when conservative Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran came out against the bill.
Walker attended the National Governor Association’s annual conference over the weekend, where the Trump administration made a personal pitch to win them over. The meeting didn’t go particularly well, according to most reports, and many governors left the conference to hold news conferences proclaiming their opposition to the GOP health care bill. No official statement came from the National Governors Association.
Walker said he has plenty of concerns with the bill.
“I said in one of my interviews that I did not support anything that would hurt Alaska,” he said. “I believe at this point that would hurt Alaska so I would not be in support of the legislation as it’s drafted.”
He also acknowledged that Murkowski and Sullivan have more information on the bill and its drafting than he does. The pair recently secured at least $1.82 billion for the individual insurance marketplace by changing the state eligibility requirements for a $182 billion pot of money. The money, called by some as the “Kodiak Kickback” or “Polar Payoff,” didn’t immediately win over either senator’s support, however.
Murkowski has already said she would oppose the straight repeal of Obamacare. Like the group of governors, she has called for a bipartisan effort to address the problems with health care.