House GOP leaders have reportedly come up with their new version of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill but kept it under wraps. A leaked copy, however, found its way on Friday to the media.
The draft document shrouded with secrecy was made available on Thursday to House Energy and Commerce Committee members and staff for reading only.
No one was allowed to have a copy, a Republican lawmaker said.
No More Repeat Leak
The manner on how the Republican leaders safeguarded and kept the sensitive document in utmost secrecy reflected the high stakes in rewriting Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The GOP House leaders may seem twice shy in handling the document after an outdated draft leaked last week, which was not received well by conservatives.
It was not known if the Democrats on the committee have had a look on the document.
The new draft is seen as a way to move forward the plan to repeal Obamacare. It is expected to be an improved version of the previous ones, which could potentially affect 21 million Americans who rely on Obamacare for coverage.
Fried by conservatives with their earlier repeal-and-replace version, Republican members were groping which way to proceed. The Tuesday night address of President Donald Trump to Congress in a joint session did not help as no new details were outlined on how to move with the repeal.
It appears that the draft document will be made available to those dyed-in-the-wool members of the health subcommittee.
"The draft of it is going to be available tomorrow for those of us on the health subcommittee to start poring through," New York Representative Chris Collins, a Trump ally and member of the health subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, said.
Collins echoed what the House GOP leaders want when he said, "we're making sure it won't be leaked."
To study the new draft, Florida lawmaker and panel member Gus Bilirakis said "there'll be a place for us to view it." The place he referred to was the reading room intended only for the select few.
Normal Legislative Process
House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, assured the public the new draft goes through the usual legislative process.
"We're not hatching some bill in a backroom and plopping it on the American people's front door," Ryan said on NBC's Today.
It was learned the Congressional Budget Office has yet to "score" on the cost and how many people are targeted for coverage. Fewer people are expected to be insured, which makes the CBO score important and pivotal to the debate.
The bill, according to Collins, will be marked up and voted before the CBO will "score" on it.
To move forward, the bill without the CBO score will be problematic, even with some Republican lawmakers who are anxious that they might end up replacing Obamacare with another costly measure.
"We can't sit back and wait for these scores to come out," Collins said.