As Obamacare Faces Repeal, All Eyes Are On Lisa Murkowski

By David Malcolm

Once again, the GOP moves to repeal Obamacare in a desperate attempt to gain respect from Daddy Trump and prove that they aren’t totally useless. After their previous failed attempts, there is no longer any concern for ordinary people, just pure cynicism. Why else would a small group of senators threaten the livelihoods of millions of American citizens by ignoring a bipartisan attempt to fix the flaws in Obamacare? Rather than help Democrats repair the car engine, the Republicans have decided to destroy the car.

This repeal attempt is gaining a worrying amount of momentum, but it faces fierce resistance once again from both sides. The GOP leadership is trying to oo members of their own party, but their efforts might be too little, too late after the numerous attempts before. John McCain is key to this since he is still uncommitted. His friends have endorsed the repeal bill but his intervention last month helped kill the last attempt at repeal. With a still-slender majority in the Senate, the Republicans can only afford three defections.

Rand Paul and Susan Collins are already planning to vote against the bill, the latter having done so before, and with McCain undecided, all eyes are on Lisa Murkowski. Despite her previous opposition to Obamacare, she and Collins have been instrumental in sinking Trump’s various attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, citing concern for citizens in her home state of Alaska. As of now, she is concerned about how the planned block-grants, the stop-gap measure planned to replace the ACA, will affect her voters. What she might discover will make all the difference since she along with McCain will once again be the key to whether Obamacare lives or dies.

Murkowski, like her state, can be mysterious and surprising. She has broken ranks and voted against her party but if the leadership can convince her, she will be willing to play ball. No one knows how she will vote although it is clear that she cares deeply about her state. Alaska has a small and vulnerable population, spread out over a mostly remote area and suffering from extremely high healthcare costs. This means that fixing Obamacare, or getting a suitable and workable replacement, is top of her list as far as healthcare goes. The Republican leadership will be treading carefully after their heavy-handed treatment of her last time.

Lisa Murkowski will be inundated with calls and messages urging her to vote one way or the other. The leadership will no doubt try to convince her that the repeal will benefit her citizens in the long run. Her previous votes saw a brief attempt at intimidation from Trump himself along with his cronies, a tactic which went down very poorly. Murkowski is tougher than one might assume: you don’t win multiple elections just by luck after all. It’s entirely possible that she votes for repeal, but she is perhaps more likely to reject this last-ditch effort to ditch Obama’s greatest achievement and embrace the new bipartisan efforts, now stalled due to this curveball.

McCain and Murkowski are the prime examples of the importance and power that politicians have over the lives of those they serve. For the sake of those currently insured and those hoping for better healthcare in the future, we can only hope they make the right decision.

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