Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has announced her opposition to the repeal of Obamacare if it means defunding Planned Parenthood or eliminating the state’s expansion of Medicaid.
“The Affordable Care Act has failed in so many ways, but there are elements within it that deserve to be saved,” Murkowski said during an address before the Alaska Legislature.
Specifically, Murkowski citied provisions mandating coverage be provided to individuals with pre-existing conditions, the ability of people to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26, and mental health coverage as worth saving, as well as her state’s decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
“As long as Alaska wants to keep the expansion it should have the option,” she said. “I will not vote to repeal it.”
Murkowski also expressed opposition to any Obamacare repeal that also defunds Planned Parenthood.
“Taxpayer dollars should never be used to pay for abortions, but I will not vote to deny Alaskans access to the health services that Planned Parenthood provides,” Murkowski said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan previously indicated any repeal of Obamacare would also include the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood’s affiliate in Alaska praised Murkowski’s decision.
“That was a really pleasant surprise,” said Alyson Currey, a representative for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “We really commend her for her leadership and her strong support.”
Murkowski joined Maine Senator Susan Collins and former Illinois Senator Mark Kirk in attempting to remove a provision defunding Planned Parenthood from an Obamacare repeal bill in 2015.
Efforts to repeal Obamacare were already faltering prior to Murkowski’s comments, despite dozens of repeal measures already passing Congress under President Obama and a proposal to replace Obamacare introduced by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Paul reportedly left a meeting with House Speaker Ryan over frustration with Medicaid expansion and the lack of progress to repeal Obamacare.
Former House Speaker John Boehner suggested a complete repeal of Obamacare was unlikely.
“In the 25 years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time, agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once,” he said at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society forum. “They’ll fix Obamacare. I shouldn’t call it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen.”
“They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.”