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Price on health care: There's always a Plan B
04:13 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A flurry of activity Thursday suggests health care legislation might not be dead on the Hill

The Catch: Some key players have not seen the bill and that's a big unknown for lawmakers

CNN  — 

There’s increased optimism among the Trump White House and some in the Republican-led Congress that legislation to reform and replace Obamacare might just be coming together, just six weeks after the very-public collapse of the initial healthcare bill.

Reports CNN’s MJ Lee and Deirdre Walsh: “Conservative House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadow and moderate Tuesday Group leader Tom MacArthur are working toward a deal that could bring 18-20 new ‘Yes’ votes from the conference’s conservative wing, according to a source familiar with the talks.”

Things are happening! Eighteen to 20 new “yes” votes would almost certainly be enough to pass the bill through the House!

And, if you stopped reading MJ and Deirdre’s story right there, you’d think that. But, if you happened to scroll down in the piece – you know, read the whole thing – you’d find this very, very important line:

“As of now, the broader conference is not aware of what the new health care blueprint is, suggesting that things are very much in the air.”

[record scratch]

So, outside of a handful of people like Meadows (North Carolina) and MacArthur (New Jersey), leaders of the Freedom Caucus and the Republican moderates respectively, almost no one in the House GOP conference has actually seen the changed bill, much less approved of it.

This is a problem. A big problem.

Why? Try to think all the way back to March 7 – it was more than a month ago, I know – when House Republicans introduced their much-ballyhooed American Health Care Act. Within days of its introduction, the legislation was doomed – as GOP members who hadn’t been part of the behind-closed-doors crafting of the bill rebelled against this provision or that provision.

Sound familiar? A bill crafted by a small subset of House Republicans? CHECK. Unseen, at the moment, by the bulk of the GOP conference? CHECK. Unbridled optimism without a ton of evidence to account for it? CHECK.

With all that said, it’s totally possible that whatever deal Meadows and MacArthur have struck catches on with the broader Republican House and it sails through next week. (Although a vote on health care next week still seems unlikely.)

But, there also is the very real possibility that we are looking at deja vu all over again for House Republicans and the Trump White House.