Gov. Holcomb backs latest health care bill as Republicans work last-ditch effort to secure votes

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to a meeting in the U.S. Capitol July 25, 2017 in Washington, DC (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON –  Protesters in wheelchairs interrupted Tuesday’s hearing on the GOP’s health care bill – loudly screaming, “No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!”

The noisy protests forced Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch to recess the hearing just moments after it began.

Hatch told the protesters, “If you want a hearing you better shut up!” His complaint was to no avail as the protests continued.

So Hatch then shut the hearing down, saying it would resume when order was restored.

The protesters are being removed from the hearing room one by one.

The hearing comes as Senate Republicans pursue a last-ditch effort to pass legislation to repeal and replace “Obamacare.” They appear to be short of votes ahead of a make-or-break deadline at the end of this week.

A spokesperson for Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said he remains undecided in his vote; Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has said he will vote against the measure if it comes up for a vote.

“This Graham-Cassidy bill actually eliminates coverage for hundreds-of-thousands of Hoosiers,” Donnelly said Friday.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb backed the new legislation in an interview with FOX59 Monday.

“It has a hearing today that we’re tracking pretty closely as you might imagine,” he said.

Holcomb has joined 14 other Republican governors in backing the plan, sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week.

“I think I have always thought that states need more freedom and flexibility and control and responsibility to best manage their citizens health care,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb also pledged Monday “with or without this bill” that Indiana will continue to have the Healthy Indiana Plan, known as HIP 2.0

“We’ll continue to make sure that program is in place as we move forward,” he said.

HIP 2.0 covers more than 400,000 Hoosiers, a majority of its funding come through the Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act.  The new health care proposal would replace that funding with block grants.

Indiana could see an increase in funding short-term, Holcomb said, but after 2026 the federal Medicaid expansion money would end unless it was renewed by Congress.

“Some reforms will have to be made in anything in a life over a 10-year-period,” Holcomb said. “But again, because of the steps Indiana has made, we are in a very good position.”