About a week ago, health care advocates had reason to feel optimism. Senate Republicans publicly conceded that their efforts to craft their own health care blueprint weren't going especially well.
Asked if there will be a Senate-passed version of the GOP health care plan by the end of the year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) conceded, "I don't think there will be. I just don't think we can put it together among ourselves." Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) added that he believed it's "unlikely" a Republican bill would pass.
But while those comments offered hope to health care proponents, as the week progressed, the winds began to shift direction. Vox's report on Friday afternoon is consistent with everything I've heard about the state of the debate.
Behind closed doors, the Senate is drawing closer to passing a health care bill that looks a lot like the widely disliked version that cleared the House.
Any agreement currently on the table would almost certainly result in millions fewer Americans having health coverage, including low-income workers on Medicaid. It could roll back some Obamacare protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.
This is a big story with a lot of moving parts, so it'll probably be easier to go through this in a Q&A.
I feel like I haven't heard much about health care lately.
That's because you haven't, and part of that is by design. Certainly, Donald Trump's Russia scandal is dominating the headlines, and for good reason, but Senate Republicans have created a "working group" that's writing their bill in secret, entirely behind closed doors. They've been quite effective in keeping details out of the public eye, knowing that the more Americans learned of their ideas, the more controversial their plan would become.
Is there a Senate GOP bill?
Not yet, but by all accounts, the Senate's legislation is coming together, and it's a safe bet they'll have a final version fairly soon.
Assuming there's legislation, is it true GOP leaders will simply skip over committee hearings and bring the secret bill directly to the floor for a vote?
Yes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week invoked Rule XIV, which allows him to expedite the legislative process and bypass every relevant committee. This is, of course, the opposite of how Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010.
But if they skip past committee hearings, how will anyone have a chance to scrutinize the bill?