In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says that Medicare "needs to be reformed," but the junior senator from Florida – a state with a large elderly population– wouldn't say outright he embraced Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare.

"I think it needs to be reformed," Rubio told TPM Tuesday. "I'd like to see specific proposals."

When asked if he or other Republican senators would be open to moving forward with a plan like Paul Ryan's—which is pretty specific and would give the elderly a set amount of money to purchase health care on a private exchange—Rubio demurred.

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Republican Senate leaders said Tuesday that they plan to charge through with their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.

"Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at his weekly press conference after the GOP caucus lunch.

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A key Republican senator in the GOP's effort to repeal Obamacare signaled that he was on board for the party's repeal-and-delay plan, but stressed that "the sooner we can come up with a replacement the better."

"Our goal is to repeal Obamacare, have a transition period, and then replace it," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chair of the Senate Heath, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "And to do that in an orderly, sensible way that helps people and doesn't hurt them."

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Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) seemed to be leaning toward a strategy to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously Tuesday, something that is being pushed by House conservatives in the Freedom Caucus.

"Why would we put off for three years doing what we know we have to do?" Corker told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

While Corker said he still wanted to hear from Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was scheduled to meet with senators shortly after Corker spoke to reporters, he openly wondered whether waiting three years to replace Obamacare could create political problems down the line.

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As the GOP confronts the complexity of repealing Obamacare, Senate Republicans hailing from states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act are feeling an extra layer of pressure.

Altogether, there will likely be 20 Republican senators from Medicaid expansion states next term. Many come from so-called “Trump country,” the industrial and rust belt states like Pennsylvania and Ohio that were critical to Trump’s win. Working class whites in general have been among the top beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion.

"I'm from a state that has an expanded Medicaid population that I am very concerned about," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) this week. "I don't want to throw them off into the cold, and I don't think that's a strategy that I want to see. It's too many people. That's over 200,000 people in my state. So we need a transition. I think we'll repeal and then we'll work during the transition period for the replacement vehicle."

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