The protesters, many of whom were in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, were removed by police before the session resumed.
The Senate Finance Committee hearing was called to discuss a measure, proposed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, that would undo former president Barack Obama‘s expansion of Medicaid and related subsidies.
The measure would also give states more freedom to charge higher premiums for older and seriously ill people and to sell skimpy, lower-cost policies. The initial version required federal approval for such action. It would also let states raise limits Obama’s law has placed on consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.
Videos posted to social media appeared to show Sen. Cassidy yawning as the protesters were wheeled away.
Disability rights advocacy group ADAPT had announced that 200 activists would be at the public hearing to voice their opposition to the measure, which it says would eliminate protections granted to people with disabilities under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“Graham-Cassidy is the worst bill yet that Republicans have come up with to repeal Obamacare,” said ADAPT organizer Bruce Darling in a release. “This wasn’t what they campaigned on; they didn’t campaign to strip away the services that disabled people and seniors rely on to live in the community.”
WATCH: Dramatic images as security removes protesters outside Senate healthcare hearing
ADAPT said that the measure threatened to herald “a return to the days of warehousing people with disabilities.”
Testifying against the measure will be Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat who’s been diagnosed with kidney cancer.
— With files from the Associated Press