(BIVN) – The Senate Committee on Finance on Monday held a hearing to examine the latest GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal got a raucous reception before the hearing got underway. Protesters chanted “No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!” before being dragged out by DC police. Committee chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) threatened to end the hearing if order was not restored.
On the very first witness panel: Republican senator from South Carolina and co-author of the new healthcare plan, Lindsey Graham; and right beside him, Democratic senator from Hawaii – and, perhaps the face of the Obamacare-repeal resistance – Mazie Hirono.
“Every day, people come up to me at airports, grocery stores, and restaurants to tell me that they too are cancer survivors,” Sen. Hirono told the Senate Committee. “It is never a good time to have cancer, but what I am experiencing through my cancer is the care and concern expressed by total strangers. This is compassion.”
“What we do as leaders affecting everyone’s lives should reflect compassion. That is not in this bill. In the greatest, richest country in the world, compassion for our fellow men and women should not be so elusive or indeed missing,” Sen. Hirono said.
“After all the care and compassion I received from my colleagues after I disclosed my diagnosis, the Graham-Cassidy proposal reflects neither care nor compassion for millions across the country,” Hirono added. “Health care is a right, not a privilege, but Graham-Cassidy treats health care like a commodity that can be bought and sold.”
According to Hirono, the Graham-Cassidy bill “threatens to punish states like Hawaii that expanded Medicaid by cutting federal funding and redistributing it to other states that did not expand the program.”
Under the proposed bill, according to independent analysts, Hawaii could face $4 billion in cuts and 91,000 Hawaii residents could lose access to health care, Hirono says.