Republicans and Democrats try to launch bipartisan effort on health care

Cassidy: Health bill should pass Kimmel test
Cassidy: Health bill should pass Kimmel test

    JUST WATCHED

    Cassidy: Health bill should pass Kimmel test

MUST WATCH

Cassidy: Health bill should pass Kimmel test 01:12

Story highlights

  • Two Republican senators are trying to Democrats to help reform health care
  • Two Democrats, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin, attended their meeting

(CNN)There is a bipartisan effort underway to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Emerging from a meeting on the first floor of the Capitol Monday night, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters they are attempting to work with Democrats to see if there is a way forward to fix the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
"We had 10 or 11 senators who came tonight. I think that's significant," Collins told reporters after a meeting. "What we're trying to do is to get away from the partisanship that has made it very difficult to come up with solution and we're trying to get away from semantics, we're trying to get away from people being locked into a party position and instead raise fundamental questions about how can we move forward."
    Collins and Cassidy are authors of their own legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, but said that their legislation wasn't necessarily the starting point for any negotiation.
    "This was really a meeting to look at all sorts of ideas," Collins said.
    The moderate Republican senators stressed that the talks are still preliminary, with just a handful of Democrats involved. They estimated there were three or four Democrats in the meeting and a few more interested who couldn't attend Monday night. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- both red-state Democrats facing re-election in 2018 -- were spotted coming out of the meeting room.
    Also spotted at the meeting were Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.
    When asked if any progress had been made in the meeting, Manchin told reporters, "no, not really."
    "There's no way I can vote for a repeal," Manchin said.
    Manchin said there were "some good ideas thrown out and talked about."
    "It was mostly to see is there a way forward without repealing. Is there a way forward without throwing the baby out with the bathwater?" Manchin said.
    The meeting happened as Republican senators charge ahead with their own working group of 13 members who have been tasked with finding a GOP path forward to repeal and replace Obamacare. Collins and Cassidy said their party's leadership, however, was made aware of their bipartisan effort.