Murkowski outlines conditions to support Obamacare repeal in speech to Alaska Legislature

 Sen. Lisa Murkowski delivers her annual speech to the Legislature during a joint floor session
Sen. Lisa Murkowski delivers her annual speech to the Legislature during a joint floor session (KTUU)
Published: Feb. 22, 2017 at 3:13 PM AKST
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Sen. Lisa Murkowski would vote against legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that defunds Planned Parenthood, she said Wednesday in her annual speech to the Alaska Legislature.

The Republican also said she would oppose any legislation that eliminates federal funds that allowed states including Alaska to expand access to Medicaid, or a shift back to pre-Obamacare policies that allowed insurance companies to deny coverage because people have pre-existing health conditions.

Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, lauded Murkowski's positions on the rollback of ACA.

"I was going to ask you a sort of hard-driving question about the Affordable Care Act, but frankly, you took the air out of my balloon," Josephson told the state's senior U.S. senator.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jessica Cler also lauded Murkowski: "With so much uncertainty in politics today, Alaskans can breathe a little easier knowing that Senator Murkowski said she will protect their access to the critical health care services Planned Parenthood provides.”

While the positions may run counter to many conservative members of her party, and perhaps President Donald Trump, she said the positions are best for Alaskans.

"I don't view this as risky," Murkowski told reporters after her remarks during a joint floor session. "I view this as giving certainty to people in this state who are worried and are anxious about certain aspects of their healthcare."

More than usual, Murkowski's vote could matter on an array of issues over the next two years: Republicans maintain narrow 52-to-48 control over the U.S. Senate.

Murkowski also told state lawmakers that Interior Secretary Designate Ryan Zinke plans to visit Alaska following his confirmation hearings.