Republicans finally came out of hiding to hold a hearing on their health care repeal bill. It did not go well for them, as disability rights activists showed up to shut it all down.
So this is why Republicans feared having public debate about their never-ending attempt to repeal Obamacare and eliminate health care coverage for millions of Americans.
They were afraid to face the wrath of a furious and frightened public.
Monday, moments after Utah Republican Sen. Orin Hatch gaveled the Senate’s only hearing for the Graham-Cassidy bill, demonstrators erupted in chants and brought the hearing to a temporary halt. Activists with the disability rights group ADAPT broke out into loud chants of "No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!"
They were soon taken away by police:
BREAKING: Senator Hatch orders Graham-Cassidy health care hearing to recess as protesters in wheelchairs are removed by authorities pic.twitter.com/St8sBGbzEn
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 25, 2017
I've been covering health care activism from day one and this is a sight that is still hard to make sense of pic.twitter.com/gFaR6V0yHv
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_Vox) September 25, 2017
The raw anger and frustration over Republican repeal efforts has been boiling for months. Not only does the GOP bill propose radical changes in the way health care is administered, especially to the most vulnerable in society, but Republicans continued to try to operate under the cloak of near total secrecy.
Previously, Hatch conceded that limiting public hearings was a way to not let Democratic criticize the bill. "We have zero cooperation from the Democrats," he said in June. "So getting it in public gives them a chance to get up and scream."
Unlike Obamacare, which was publicly debated for nearly a year before it was signed into law, Republicans seem determined to try to ram thorough a health care bill with virtually no debate, no amendments, and no serious hearings. (Scheduling a Monday hearing for a bill that's due to be voted on Wednesday is not a serious endeavor.)
They have completely shredded the Senate’s regular order and are now racing against the clock to try to get enough votes before the end of the month.
Monday’s Senate hearing represented a rare opportunity for critics to confront Republicans face to face.
And make no mistake, the latest repeal bill is deeply unpopular with Americans, and even deeply unpopular with Republicans. This is a repeal attempt with no constituency. Voters don’t want it. Doctors don’t want it. Hospital administrators don’t want it and health insurance companies don't want it.
The only people who do seem to like the bill are the Republicans pushing it as a way to erase President Barack Obama's legacy.