The Republicans' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare on their own has Washington talking about a grand bipartisan compromise on healthcare.
Don't believe it. The two parties have never been further apart on healthcare than they are right now.
That hasn't stopped Democrats and Republicans from wishing otherwise. Rather than repeating the same failed partisan process yet again, Republicans should work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets, and improves our healthcare system," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
"The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Even President Trump argued that either full repeal without a replacement or allowing Obamacare to collapse would ultimately bring Democrats to the negotiating table. "Dems join in!" he tweeted.
There are some technical fixes to reassure insurers and shore up the Obamacare exchanges that could attract bipartisan support. And there is some agreement on healthcare among centrists in both parties, which is why they are already meeting.
But when it comes to a lot of the fundamental questions about what it would take to "fix" Obamacare, Democrats and Republicans simply disagree.
Conservative Republicans believe that the best way to lower premiums and make health insurance affordable is to provide relief from Obamacare mandates and let people buy plans that meet their needs.
Both the changes to the House-passed bill won by the Freedom Caucus and the revisions to the Senate bill advocated by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reflect this viewpoint.
Liberal Democrats counter that this will lead to the proliferation of skimpy plans that have high deductibles or don't provide adequate coverage. They also argue that relaxing some Obamacare mandates, like community rating, will endanger protections for preexisting conditions.
To the Democrats, regulations and government purchasing power are the solution to rising healthcare costs, not a primary driver of them. They want more enforcement of the individual mandate, more federal healthcare spending, maybe even the revival of the public option.
Even relatively centrist Democrats from states Trump won handily in November were not willing to make any substantial concessions to conservatives. Sen. Heidi Heitkampf of North Dakota reportedly described ruling out per capita Medicaid block grants to the states or rolling back the Medicaid expansion were "the price of admission for me sitting down."
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the most conservative Democrat in the upper chamber from a state Trump won by nearly 42 points, told Politico, "I said, ‘I don't think there's a Democrat that would vote for any type of a repeal.'"
If anything, there is now greater Democratic support for single-payer healthcare. A majority of rank-and-file Democrats now back the idea. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had some success running on it in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. It is moving toward being a mainstream position for Democratic politicians to take.
And why not? It is the exchanges, a concession (albeit a highly regulated and subsidized one) to markets, that make Obamacare vulnerable to repeal seven years later. It is the government-run Medicaid expansion that not only provided most of the coverage but also sank the repeal efforts in the Republican-controlled Senate.
That lesson can't be lost on Democrats, who always remind us about the prevalence of government-run healthcare abroad and can point to Medicare at home. Republicans are much more tentative in defending their vision for healthcare policy and obviously less willing to risk their congressional majorities to pass a bill reflecting that vision.
If you are looking for a compromise between single payer and the Republicans' preferred path, Obamacare (like its predecessor Romneycare) arguably is that compromise. Just not a sustainable one.
Don't be surprised to see some bipartisan efforts to stabilize the exchanges ahead of the midterm elections. But the bigger problems with Obamacare will be solved over time on either Democratic or Republican terms.
Not even an ideological chameleon like Trump can square this circle.