The Senate’s Health Care Travesty

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Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and fellow Republicans after voting to begin debate on a health bill on Tuesday.

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Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Ignoring overwhelming public opposition to legislation that would destroy the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday to begin repealing that law without having any workable plan to replace it.

The majority leader, Mitch McConnell, browbeat and cajoled 50 members of his caucus to vote to begin a debate on health care without even telling the country which of several competing bills he wanted to pass. Vice President Mike Pence provided the tiebreaking vote. The proposals vary in severity, but all of them would leave millions more people without health insurance and make medical care unaffordable for many low-income and middle-class families. It is clear that Mr. McConnell does not much care which of these proposals the Senate passes; for whatever reason — pride, White House pressure, sheer cussedness — he just wants to get a bill out of the Senate. It could then go into a conference committee with the House, which passed its own terrible health care bill in May.

That committee would hash out a compromise behind closed doors, sending whatever it comes up with to both chambers, which would then vote with limited public debate and no opportunity for amendments. This is far less transparent than the process that produced the A.C.A. and that the Republicans have been complaining about for seven years. Former President Barack Obama and a Democratic-led Congress spent a year working on the law with many public hearings and amendments from both parties.

In a moment Tuesday that was almost surreal, Senator John McCain, back from surgery and a brain cancer diagnosis, said that Republicans were making a big mistake with their partisan approach to health care, among other…

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