GOP rushing to vote on healthcare without analysis of changes

By Peter Sullivan and Cristina Marcos, May 03, 2017

House Republicans are once again fast-tracking consideration of their ObamaCare replacement bill without knowing the full impact of the legislation they’ll vote on Thursday.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is not expected to have completed its analysis detailing the effects of the latest changes to the legislation overhauling the nation’s healthcare system in time for the Thursday vote.

Leadership’s decision to press ahead with the floor action means lawmakers will be voting on the bill without updated figures from their nonpartisan scorekeeper on how many people would lose coverage under the bill or how much it would cost.

Some lawmakers acknowledged that it would be helpful to have an analysis, known as a “score,” from the CBO, but said they could not wait for it.

When asked why the vote would not wait for the score, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) -- the lead sponsor of a new amendment to the bill that might push it over the finish line -- said “because I don’t expect it probably for a couple weeks.”

“I wish that we had it, alright?” Upton added. “I wish that we had had it in committee, I said so at the time.”

The lack of a score comes despite years of GOP attacks on Democrats for what Republicans argued was a rushed process that rammed through ObamaCare in 2010.

The latest bill text was posted Wednesday, just one night before the vote.

Upton’s amendment adds $8 billion over five years aimed at helping people with pre-existing conditions afford their premiums in states that choose to repeal ObamaCare protections preventing sick people from being charged exorbitantly high premiums.

Many health policy experts doubt that $8 billion is enough money. And Upton himself said Wednesday that he doesn’t know for sure that it will be.  

“Is it enough money? I don’t know,” Upton said. “That’s the question that I asked and was led to believe that $5 billion would be enough, which is why it’s $8 billion.”

He noted that “at some point, this will be scored by CBO,” and said that if the analysis finds there is not enough money, more could be added by the Senate or at another point.

The CBO also has not provided an analysis of the amendment authored by centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that lets states apply for waivers from key ObamaCare provisions preventing insurers from charging sick people higher premiums and mandating minimum insurance coverage requirements, so long as high-risk pools are offered.

When asked if there are concerns the process is being rushed without a CBO score and limited time to review late-breaking changes, Meadows said Republicans have waited long enough to fulfill a nearly decade-long campaign promise.

“We’ve been talking about repealing and replacing ObamaCare for seven years. That’s the first time that I’ve had anybody say that we rushed anything,” Meadows said.

At the same time, he conceded, “It’s a valid point.”

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