Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the rule to bring up H.R. 3350, the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” sponsored by Congressman Fred Upton. The proposal marks the 46th time House Republicans have moved to undermine the Affordable Care Act and put insurance companies back in charge of Americans’ health care. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his leadership, and that of the whole Rules Committee, on having to field some really strange notions masquerading as proposals to improve the lives of the American people.
“And we see a lot of that these days. But this one on the floor today really takes the cake, because it is essentially: ‘pull the plug on the Affordable Care Act.’ And while it says that they want to delay the cancellations that the insurance companies have written to policyholders, the bill does not mandate. So this is a conversation. It's not an action. But it does violence to the bill in other ways. The idea that it was helping consumers was the Trojan horse whose underbelly is poisonous in terms of the health and well-being of the American people.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to come to the floor on the rule because I think it's really important for Members to vote against the rule as a point of fairness. If we reject this rule and allow the Rules Committee to come back to the floor with an opportunity for there to be a Democratic alternative, that would be fair. And what we would do in the vote on the Previous Question, which I urge people to vote ‘no’ on, would be to be able to vote ‘yes’ or consider voting ‘yes’ on a bill that does exactly what consumers need in terms of this cancellation area.
“First of all, it would say that there would be a real delay for one year for the implementation in terms of the individual policy holders. It’s this piece of the bill that is the question – individual policies. Ninety-five percent of the American people, as has been said, who have policies that they like can keep them. It's this five percent – and that's a lot of people, I don't want to minimize that – but nonetheless, it's a discreet market. Let's address that discreet market.
“And in our Previous Question, we bring up a bill that addresses that market. Not only by enabling them to hold their policy for a year, but by requiring that the insurance companies must tell people, not that ‘you're canceled,’ but that ‘we want to sign you up again at a higher cost.’ Instead, insurance companies would be obliged to tell people what their options are under the Affordable Care Act – in terms of having no lifetime limits on their policies, no annual limits on their policies, no pre-existing condition increasing the cost of their policy or preventing them from holding their policy should they become sick, A.
“B, it also makes sure that the insurance companies tell people what their options are in the exchanges – they may qualify for a subsidy. In that marketplace, the insurance companies are competing. This is a free market, this exchange. They are competing for their policy. And therefore, that has already lowered cost to consumers. So they may have better policy with better benefits at a lower cost. And if they qualify, they get a subsidy to do it.
“In addition to that, it's really important in everything we do – not only just for this individual marketplace – for people to understand the benefits of the Affordable Care Act that are available to them. I mentioned no pre-existing condition, no annual limits, and no lifetime limits. But also that already, for the past year, young people can be on their parents' plan – over three million people have benefited in that regard. Tens of millions of seniors have benefited from the free prevention checkup, mammograms, whatever kinds of things, prevention, and wellness exams, free no co-pay, no deductible. Already seniors are experiencing lower costs for their prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act. Already small children cannot be discriminated against or their families in seeking insurance because they have a pre-existing condition. Imagine a child born with a defect for life. They have a pre-existing condition which will cost them dearly in terms of premiums – if they can even get insurance, and then it would be with limits. Not so. That's all changed.
“That's why on this Upton bill – which as I said not only does bad things to the Affordable Care Act in terms of disrupting the risk pools – it tries to masquerade as something that does something positive, which it does not. And that is why the Upton bill is opposed by a broad coalition of groups: the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and anyone with a pre-existing medical condition – 100 million people. Families with people with pre-existing medical conditions – all of them benefit. The stories are so glorious and so beautiful about what a difference the Affordable Care Act has made to families, especially those with small children or those with pre-existing conditions, and to seniors. And again, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.
“So this is politics. It's not about policy. It isn't any attempt to improve the Affordable Care Act. One way to improve it, though, is what we have in our Previous Question. Give the state insurance commissioners the authority, all of it. Some of them have it, but ensure that all of them have the authority to investigate and act upon rate increases as well as the nature of these letters that were sent out without the integrity that they should have had. Again, we require that they also – in these letters – that the insurance companies make sure that people know what their opportunities are.
“So what we are proposing today really does make a difference. In fact, we wanted to get this requirement of the insurance commissioners in the underlying bill. And then we said, ‘Ok, we'll do that as an improvement.’ Today is a day we can do that by voting ‘no’ on this Rule and enabling us to bring a bill to the floor that would do that.
“With that Mr. Speaker, I urge our colleagues to support the Affordable Care Act, support what it does for America's families, stand with those who fought for Social Security, for Medicare, affordable care for all Americans. Because these are three pillars of equal weight in terms of the economic and health security of the American people. They honor the values of our Founders, for a healthier life, liberty to pursue your happiness so you are not job-locked or constrained by a policy but free to follow your passion, to be self-employed, to start a business, to change jobs, and to be entrepreneurial – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Vote ‘no’ on the Rule.
“With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”