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IN Focus: Young, Donnelly return to DC amidst health care debate

INDIANAPOLIS -  Amidst an ongoing debate over health care, Indiana's senators are returning to Washington next week after hearing from many voters here at home over the July 4th recess.

As Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) prepared to march in the Carmel Fest parade Tuesday morning, he underscored the message he’d been hearing.

“All along the parade route, everybody is saying please save our health care,” Donnelly said, referring to a parade he marched in Monday.

While international issues like North Korea, Russia and Syria also made news this past week, it's the health care debate that continues to dominate the conversation in Congress.

Republican leaders wanted the deal done by this point – hoping for a bill that both repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act.

But that didn’t happen.

“I’m undecided,” Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said Monday. “I remain firmly in the undecided camp.”

A group of Senate Republicans, like Young, still have big questions ranging from Medicaid to opioid spending. Young is now among a handful of Republicans that will help determine the fate of the bill, at least short-term.

“I haven’t gotten into the habit of drawing red lines,” Young said. “I think that’s imprudent especially when you’re negotiating with so many other senators who have deep convictions and concerns.”

In recent days, President Donald Trump has suggested immediately repealing the Affordable Care Act and potentially waiting to replace if leadership can’t find the votes.

This week, GOP leaders do continue working on a compromise to garner enough support, at this point without help from Democrats.

“We’ve already been at the table,” Donnelly said. “I’ve been to meetings already. What I won’t be part of is a program that takes health care away from Hoosiers.”

Where there appears to be some bipartisan agreement among Indiana’s Democratic and Republican senators is the notion that true health care reform will eventually need widespread support.

“There are solutions and answers here that provide great coverage that help to reduce premiums, reduce deductibles and accomplish a lot of the goals of the Republicans,” Donnelly said.

Young said he’s waiting for a final version of the revised bill before making a decision on whether to support the legislation.

“I can’t emphasize enough,” he said. “If we’re going to have long-term sustainable reform in this country, everyone in the U.S. Senate, everyone needs to participate in the final work product.”