Caitlin Owens Apr 6, 2017
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If Trumpcare stays dead, Medicaid overhaul could come back to life

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Don't write off the chances for a rewrite of Medicaid even if Trumpcare dies. Some members of the Senate are quietly discussing taking up a Medicaid overhaul separate from an Obamacare replacement — which could help them pass tax reform by making more money available for it.

This could allow them to make use of both "reconciliation" bills, or special legislative vehicles that would allow the GOP to pass major legislation without being subject to a Democratic filibuster. But it's not clear how serious the discussions are — one aide characterized as side conversations. It's a major lift, and even those who have discussed it say it's hard to see Medicaid reform passing while Obamacare repeal dies.

"I'm not sure anybody's mind's been made up on that," Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee, told me. However, he also said he'd had conversations about it "separately" from the general caucus meeting on Tuesday. Other influential members and aides said they haven't been part of the conversations.