OPIOID SERIES:

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 SebeliusTrump administration's reforms could make welfare work again Pro-dependency advocates miss the mark in attacking Kansas welfare reform Pence breaks tie to confirm Trump's pick for religious ambassador 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 ObamaPaltry wage gains, rising deficits two key tax reform concerns Throwing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism Colorado state lawmakers advance measure to rename highway after Obama 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 BecerraTrump's EPA quietly revamps rules for air pollution Flurry of lawsuits filed over citizenship question on census Trump continues to put Americans first by adding citizenship question to census 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 MurphyOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan Dems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting 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 CantorRace for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement 2018 will test the power of political nobodies MORE (R-Va.) meet to talk about areas of compromise as well.