As they draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republican leaders are aiming to transform large sections of the American health care system without a single hearing on their bill and without a formal, open drafting session.
That has created an air of distrust and concern — on and off Capitol Hill, with Democrats but also with Republicans.
“I’ve said from Day 1, and I’ll say it again,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee. “The process is better if you do it in public, and that people get buy-in along the way and understand what’s going on. Obviously, that’s not the route that is being taken.”
The secrecy surrounding the Senate measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appears to be remarkable — at least for a health care measure this consequential. In 1993, President Bill Clinton empowered the first lady, Hillary Clinton, to assemble health care legislation in private, with input from a group of more than 500 experts.
That approach won scathing reviews from Republican lawmakers and others shut out of the deliberations. But it took place at the White House, not in Congress. Once the Clintons’ health plan reached Capitol Hill, it died in the public spotlight.
Republican leaders this week defended their actions.