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GOPs skeptical of bipartisan health discussions

Several House Republicans questioned the motivation behind the Democrats' new effort to include the GOP in discussions on healthcare reform.

For the first time since the debate over healthcare reform began in earnest, House Republicans were invited to participate in meetings with top-level Democrats on the president's controversial healthcare plan.

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Following a closed door meeting on Wednesday afternoon with guest participant Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusPro-dependency advocates miss the mark in attacking Kansas welfare reform Pence breaks tie to confirm Trump's pick for religious ambassador The House needs to help patients from being victimized by antiquated technology MORE, two frustrated GOP lawmakers said that she took questions but gave "non-answer answers."

“The bottom line is, they’re going to do what they are going to do. I guess they just don’t want to look like they didn’t (sit down); it’s more of a dog and pony show," Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (R-La.) told The Hill as he walked out of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) meeting with Sebelius.

His colleague Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Co.) echoed the sentiment and said that the conservative faction, which has sponsored a healthcare alternative, will continue to press for a meeting with President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE.

RSC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said that he understood Coffman's frustration but was appreciative that Sebelius gave an "informative" presentation, listening to members and catching them up on the status of the healthcare reform options tossed around by administration officials and top congressional Democrats.

An administration official took issue with Fleming's characterization of the meeting, noting that it was billed as a question-and-answer session, not a negotiation.

"The Secretary had a productive discussion with the members of the RSC. We are always open to good ideas that will help provide stability and security for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans. The President's plan contains good proposals from both parties and the bill he signs will be built on bipartisan ideas."

Meanwhile, several corridors away, a different group of House lawmakers held the first leadership-sanctioned, bipartisan healthcare reform discussions.

Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCourt rules Energy Dept. must implement Obama efficiency rules California secession supporters file new initiative Overnight Finance: Breaking down Trump's budget | White House finally releases infrastructure plan | Why it faces a tough road ahead | GOP, Dems feud over tax-cut aftermath | Markets rebound MORE (Calif.) and Republican Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (La.) led the hour-long session that included Democratic Reps. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers feel pressure on guns Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting MORE (Conn.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Kathy Castor (Fl.) and Republican Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fl.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Peter Roskam (Ill.), and Mike Rogers (Mich.)

According to Dr. Boustany and others participants, the "conversation" went very well and they intend to meet next week.

The purpose of Wednesday afternoon's bipartisan meeting was to feel out whether the parties could see eye-to-eye on some of the reforms that need to be made to the healthcare system.

Though the participants did not delve into the areas of potential compromise, they came away from the meeting "hopeful" that they may find common ground on issues including insurance reform and medical malpractice.

The bipartisan discussions continue on Thursday, when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorFeehery: The governing party 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI Raúl Labrador, a model for Hispanic politicians reaching higher MORE (R-Va.) meet to talk about areas of compromise as well.