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Key Republican “doesn’t know” if his fix to the health care bill will help sick people

Rep. Fred Upton
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

As House members rush to vote on a bill that will replace the Affordable Care Act, one quote sums up the major flaw with the latest piece of legislation.

One of the key things that seems to have spurred enough Republicans to agree to a vote is the amount of money Republicans have included to help patients with preexisting conditions pay for health care costs. First the bill proposed $5 billion, but not enough Republicans were persuaded. Then, Rep. Fred Upton, an influential Republican who authored the amendment that got the bill across the finish line to a vote, said he was on board after it was raised to $8 million.

“Is it enough money? I don’t know. That’s the question that I asked,” Upton told reporters Wednesday. “I was led to believe that $5 billion would be enough, which is why it’s $8 billion, to make sure that in fact it’s more than enough.”

This quote reflects the glaring problem with the latest version of the American Health Care Act. Republicans are rushing to pass a bill without fully analyzing the consequences. They haven’t given the Congressional Budget Office a chance to evaluate how many people could lose coverage under the bill, and whether $8 million is anywhere close to covering a significant portion of medical care for the sickest Americans.

Instead of waiting, Upton implied that the House would just add more money later, though there’s no guarantee he could get enough support.

“If it’s not,” he said, and CBO comes back with a report that shows that, “then a number of us, including me, will seek more money.”

That may well be an uphill battle as the bill moves to the Senate, where the politics are far more complicated. Read Vox’s Sarah Kliff’s comprehensive explainer on what the current draft of the AHCA does.

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