But in this instance, the Freedom Caucus opposition would be of little consequence. The bill passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 392-37. It sailed through the Senate two weeks later with 92 Senators voting in favor, and was signed into law by the President.
This is not science fiction; the bill, called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), passed two years ago. It was cosponsored by Democratic stalwarts, and had been carefully put together by senior staffers working together over the prior year.
In the aftermath of the disastrous American Health Care Act of 2017, is there still room for bipartisan cooperation on healthcare? Despite all the breathless blow-by-blow accounts of arm-twisting and vote-getting, the true lesson of this failure is that policy matters, perhaps even more than politics. The bill was rushed and poorly drafted. It achieved no pressing national purpose other than large tax cuts for the wealthy — at the expense of older, sicker, and low-income Americans.
The prospects of bipartisan cooperation on healthcare seem dim today. But under the right set of circumstances, we might again see an opening for carefully crafted policy that addresses the real and serious healthcare challenges facing Americans.