Sen. Lisa Murkowski pushed back on earlier comments that the Senate needs to pass an Obamacare stabilization deal to get her vote on the Senate's tax reform legislation.
Her statement on Friday was in response to a report in Roll Call in which the Alaska Republican said the deal spearheaded by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., must be passed before the tax legislation if a repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate remains in the bill.
Murkowski said Friday that passing the Alexander-Murray deal is “important to stabilizing the individual market and it may be particularly so if the individual mandate is repealed.”
However, “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill,” she said. “I plan to look at the entire package before coming to any conclusion on the legislation.”
Murkowski voted against a “skinny” repeal bill in late July that repealed the mandate. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and John McCain, R-Ariz., joined Murkowski and all Senate Democrats in defeating the bill, crippling Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.
The individual mandate requires that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing it would create $338 billion in tax savings over a decade but 13 million people would forgo insurance.
However, CBO has said it will look at its methodology on insurance coverage, which could change its estimate. An estimate from Standard & Poor's found that only three to five million people would skip coverage and it would generate only up to $80 billion in savings.
The Alexander-Murray deal would restore payments to Obamacare insurers for two years in exchange for giving states more flexibility to waive Obamacare insurer regulations.