If the Republican-backed overhaul of health insurance laws is such a good idea — and some of its provisions appear at first glance to be very good ideas — why is the process to approve it so awful?

Faced with Maine’s high and uncompetitive health insurance rates, one of the most crucial issues facing this Legislature, the Republicans have proposed a comprehensive package of market reforms.

However, they have ramrodded the bill, L.D. 1333, through a committee on a partisan vote and have vowed to bring it to the floor of the House as soon as today without anything that remotely resembles serious debate and analysis.

If things go as planned, the bill will end up on the governor’s desk barely more than two weeks after it was unveiled at a public hearing.

What’s the rush? Even the Whoopie Pie bill was debated and subjected to compromise so that wild blueberry pie could share the spotlight with the state’s new official treat. The handling of this bill looks more like trick than treat, and Halloween is nearly six months away.

The Democrats on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee don’t like it, and we can understand why. Republicans should understand how the other party feels as well: It’s the same way they felt when the Democratic majority pushed through a tax-reform plan two years ago without Republican support.

L.D. 1333 originally focused only on letting Mainers buy insurance across state lines. It has been expanded to mandate creation of a subsidized insurance program for people with high medical costs and would change rate structures in a way that opponents of the bill believe would allow insurance companies to charge more for people who are older or live in places where medical costs are higher. Other provisions could affect thousands of Mainers in ways that are not immediately apparent.

The Republicans are absolutely right when they say that changes are needed and long overdue. Maine does have some of the highest health insurance rates in the country, and Maine businesses and self-employed residents struggle to pay for coverage. The current system is not sustainable and it makes sense to look at similar states with lower health costs to see how they pay for coverage and look for ways to change Maine’s regulatory system to reflect what has worked elsewhere.

Ultimately, we could end up supporting much or all of this. It’s conceivable that even some Democrats who have voiced anger and frustration about the process could end up supporting some of the reforms included in the bill. But we are not ready to sign on yet, and neither should the rank-and-file members of the Legislature who may be seeing the bill for the first time today.

This is not an overnight process. It is up to supporters of the bill, who claim that their plan is based on the experience of Idaho, to look beyond the premium prices to show how comparable these plans really are.

And a thorough public discussion needs to take place before the law is changed to make sure that people have answers to basic questions about their coverage.

Republican members of the Insurance Committee say they have debated these issues in other legislative sessions and have tried to implement them in the past, but were stymied by the Democrats who controlled the process. Now that the Republicans have the votes, they are ready to act.

But that is not a good way to make public policy. A better model was the regulatory reform bill, L.D. 1, which began with a series of controversial, divisive ideas but evolved into a moderate package winning strong bipartisan support. That was a result of committee members working together and reaching a compromise, and even voting for elements of the plan they would not have supported at the outset.

In this case, the Republicans assumed that there would be no common ground and decided to push on without trying to win over any support from the other side.

The end result will likely be worse legislation and unnecessary confusion for the people who buy health insurance.

The Legislature does not have to let this happen. Members could vote to send the bill back to committee for more work. That would be appropriate for an issue this important.