By Robert Donachie
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Tuesday that she backs her Senate colleagues proposal to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate through tax reform.
“I have always supported the freedom to choose. I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy in order to avoid being taxed,” Murkowski wrote in Alaska newspaper the Daily News-Miner.
“That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I cosponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax today,” Murkowski wrote.
Murkwoski’s backing of the individual mandate repeal is notable because she voted against all three Republican repeal and replace bills in 2017. Repealing the mandate was a cornerstone of Senate Republican bills, but Murkowski believes those bills went too far in trying to reform the current health care system.
“All of those bills went far beyond the fundamental problems presented by the ACA and would have unnecessarily taken away access to care from those who need it most,” Murkowski wrote in her op-ed Tuesday.
The senator’s home state of Alaska is one of the costliest states under Obamacare. With such a sprawling population, providing and implementing health care services in Alaska is a difficult task that requires a great deal of money.
Senate Republicans are trying to push tax reform, like they did with Obamacare repeal, through the chamber’s budget reconciliation process, which allows leadership to pass a bill with only 50 yes votes and bypass filibusters from Democrats.
Even though she is signaling her support for repealing the mandate, Murkowski has not yet said she is a definite yes on the Senate tax bill.
In regards to health care reform, the Alaska senator said she “strongly supports” the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill that aims to shore up Obamacare markets and bolster the individual marketplace.
“While I support repealing the individual mandate, I strongly support enacting the bipartisan compromise Alexander/Murray legislation into law as fast as possible to stabilize our markets, provide more control to states and more choices to individuals,” Murkowski said.
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