House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is leading the effort to craft a GOP alternative, and promised his members a vote in 2014. He faces a sea of obstacles to writing a health care bill with sufficient support in the House, and potentially a world of hurt if he follows through with his commitment.
"House Republicans will rally around and pass an alternative to Obamacare this year," Cantor told Republicans at their annual conference retreat in January. The aim is to stitch together a series of ideas with broad GOP support, such as letting people buy insurance across state lines, reforming medical malpractice laws and expanding high-risk pools and incentive-based health savings accounts, according to sources familiar with the effort.
Cantor is said to be holding regular meetings with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and roping in the House doctors caucus and the ultraconservative Republican Study Committee. One of the reasons he believes it's possible is that hard-core conservatives, the sort that most often scuttle leadership's plans, actually want an alternative.
But it's still a long shot with high risks and few rewards.
For one, the project is greatly complicated by election year considerations. Many Republicans would rather hammer Obamacare than do the hard work of crafting and defending a bill of their own.