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Tuesday, July 11, 2017 1:00 am

Share the stats: Holcomb hoards data on health bills' effects

Within the next two weeks, the latest version of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is expected to emerge from the shadows.

As would have been the case if last month's abysmal bill had come to a vote, members of the U.S. Senate will likely have little time to evaluate the measure before a vote. Then the House, which passed a version of the plan in May, would take up the matter again – probably also under time pressure.

If only someone had numbers about how the new plan might affect the state so Indiana's senators and congressmen could vote responsibly. Indiana citizens, whose health could be on the line, might have some interest in that information, too.

Oh, wait! The governor has those numbers.

He just isn't sharing them.

As The Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly reported Friday, Gov. Eric Holcomb's office is watching the evolving bill closely.

“We'll continue to work on our analysis of the bill as it evolves,” Stephanie Wilson, Holcomb's press secretary, told Kelly. But Wilson told Kelly the governor's office wouldn't commit to sharing the information publicly.

In June, Indiana's Democratic senator, Joe Donnelly sent a letter to Holcomb, a Republican, asking him to share his analysis on the effects of the emerging bill on health care in general and HIP 2.0 in particular to help Donnelly decide how to vote. Donnelly said he was concerned about how the bill would affect the future of HIP 2.0 and its more than 400,000 enrollees – particularly the efforts underwritten by HIP 2.0 to fight opioid and heroin abuse.

In a letter of reply, the governor did not commit to sharing his data with Donnelly. “As you are aware,” Holcomb wrote, “provisions in the bill change daily, and sometimes hourly, but as it evolves, we will continue to evaluate its effects on Hoosier families and businesses.”

Jay Kenworthy, a spokesman for Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young, said “our staff has been in close contact with the governor's staff to try to figure out the effects. The lines of communication are open.”

But Kenworthy said he wasn't sure whether the governor had shared his office's analysis with Young, or whether Young had asked Holcomb for that analysis.

It's likely any repeal-and-replace measure coming out of the Senate this summer would be harmful to many Hoosiers.

Before the last version of health care “reform” tanked, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 22 million Americans would be left without health care.

But that's the point. Numbers are so much more powerful and important than impressions.

The citizens of Indiana have a right to expect open and honest leadership from Holcomb. That includes sharing bad news, even if that news isn't politically comfortable for those in power.