U.S. Sen. Susan Collins holds the fate of many Americans in her hands. She is one of a few senators who will determine whether the stealth health bill, crafted without meaningful public scrutiny by 13 white male senators, will pass into law later this month.

Who will be hardest hit by this devious move to squeeze more from working people so the wealthy can receive larger tax breaks? Older people and rural residents – basically, a snapshot of Maine’s population.

When the House bill passed in early May, Sen. Collins made it clear that the Senate needed to start “from scratch” and take sufficient time to prepare a careful and fair bill. Clearly that has not happened, and Sen. Collins – to her credit – has criticized the secrecy shrouding the Senate health care bill.

But she must do more than criticize the process. She needs to vote against a bill that her colleagues have developed in a flagrantly undemocratic manner. Their clandestine maneuvering threatens to subvert the will of the American people – less than a quarter of whom favor repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to a May 31-June 6 Quinnipiac University poll.

Sen. Collins should protect the health of her constituents and the integrity of our beleaguered democracy by voting down the stealth health bill.

Marina Schauffler