The Republicans are trying to assemble a health-care bill the way some people play Words With Friends. "Is 'raitch' a word? How about 'taitch'? Okay, let's try my 'z' in that slot.…" House Republicans are trying anything to see whether they can actually secure the 216 votes needed to clear the House and move a bill to the Senate, where it will be someone else's problem at least for a while.

As in Words With Friends, however, the activity quickly loses any connection with hard-won knowledge and keen analysis. You lose sight of the goal, and start just trying to jam in anything the system will accept.

The current plan is apparently not to get rid of "Essential Health Benefits," (a big talking point for the conservative part of the coalition), but instead to use waivers that would give states broad latitude to pare them back, if they wanted to. (Very sick people, whose insurance bills might spike under this scenario, are to be taken care of via "high-risk pools," a remedy which liberals say is inadequate, because premiums in those pools can be quite high if they're underfunded.)

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