The Washington Post has a good recap of how Republicans decided to abandon health care reform last year:
As Democratic proposals began to take shape last spring, Republicans were holding their own internal discussions about how to approach the health-care debate. Some wanted to offer a path to universal health care centered on conservative, market-based ideas, while others favored more targeted, incremental legislation to correct fundamental flaws in the system. Others embraced a strategy that focused solely on attacking ideas put forth by Democrats.
The raucous town hall meetings of the August congressional recess, driven largely by opposition to sweeping health-care reform proposals, ended that debate. The three GOP senators who had been negotiating with Senate Democrats backed away from the table, and GOP leaders shelved the idea of offering a broad alternative overhaul proposal.
Instead, Republicans rallied behind a set of long-held conservative ideas, many proposed by President George W. Bush but never enacted. The list included new rules that would allow people to buy insurance policies across state lines, the expanded use of health savings accounts, funding to encourage state-based coverage innovation, and limits on lawsuits against doctors.
It was obvious from the outside that this was happening, but I don't recall seeing it reported as fact. The Republican base got whipped up into such a lather that it became impossible for Republicans to deal with President Obama. If the President was a socialist plotting to destroy the fabric of American life, how could any agreement with him possibly be good?