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July 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM

McKenna wants to ‘clarify’ stance on health-care law

More than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the heart of President Obama’s health-care law, Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna is trying to clarify just where he stands on the law going forward.

In a Seattle news conference just after the ruling, McKenna said he opposed congressional efforts to repeal the law – comments that angered some conservatives and put the GOP gubernatorial candidate at odds with many prominent national Republicans.

But on Monday, during a talk to a business group in Yakima, McKenna appeared to distance himself from those remarks, saying they were misinterpreted by the “Seattle media.”

Mike Faulk of the Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

“I wish I had been better prepared with a better articulated response than the one I gave at the press conference,” McKenna told the luncheon audience after an attendee accused him of changing his stance. “Frankly I didn’t think we were going to lose so I wasn’t ready for that question.”

McKenna insisted he was only asked whether Congress would go forward with repealing the act, not whether he thinks it should be repealed. But a recording of the June 28 news conference shows Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner clearly asking McKenna, “Do you support it being repealed?”

“No,” McKenna said.

At the news conference McKenna did say Congress should review parts of the act and that without more reforms it will ultimately drive up prices.

“We continue to have concerns on how much this is going to cost the state and how the heck we’re going to implement it successfully,” McKenna told the Chamber.

McKenna said his campaign intends to publish an op-ed on his policy regarding the Affordable Care Act now that it has been upheld, but did not say when that would be released.

Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, said McKenna’s position has not changed and that his op-ed will not be calling for repeal of the health-care law. Instead, he said McKenna will more fully lay out the parts of the law he still has concerns with and how he’d responsibly approach them as governor.

McKenna has continued to warn about the expense of the law’s Medicaid expansion and has said its individual mandate is problematic despite the court’s ruling. (At his June 28 news conference, however, McKenna said the mandate should remain in place “for now” because it is so closely tied to key positive parts of the health-care law.)

Democrat Jay Inslee’s campaign is already attacking McKenna’s latest remarks as a “flip flop.”

“Rob McKenna has been part of this lawsuit from the beginning. He had two years to think about the consequences of his effort to overturn health care reform. Washington is facing serious challenges, our state deserves a governor who is honest, prepared and ready,” Jaime Smith, Inslee’s press secretary, said in a news release.

You can judge for yourself whether any of McKenna’s June 28 comments on the health care law were misconstrued by the rascally “Seattle media.” TVW recorded the news conference. The Q & A portion begins at about the 9:50 mark.

Comments | More in Governor, homepage | Topics: health care, individual mandate, Randy Pepple


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