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Pelosi, Sebelius, House Democrats Hold Press Conference Celebrating Health Independence of America’s Families

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Health and Human Services Secretary Katheleen Sebelius, House Democratic Members, and Americans impacted by the reforms and patient protections in the Affordable Care Act held a press conference celebrating the health independence of America’s families as a result of the groundbreaking legislation.  Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks:

“Good morning everyone.  This morning my purpose is to be the master of ceremonies, so I am going to be brief, because we’re here to listen to some very special guests.  Of course our very distinguished Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to our, as I say ‘our bosses,’ our constituents: Kalwis Lo, Annie Leach, Merideth Shevitz.  And we are here in front of the flags, as we go into the Fourth of July, to celebrate health independence.  As you know, Social Security, Medicare have been pillars of stability in our society; and now Social Security, Medicare and health independence.  That’s the third pillar, something that we are very, very proud to be about. 

“Our founders – as we observe the Fourth of July – our founders talked about the Declaration of Independence guaranteeing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That is what this is all about: a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness, not being job-locked.  You can be a cameraman, a writer, you can be self-employed, start your own business, change jobs.  You’re free to do all of that.  That’s very good for society and very good for our economy. 

“Others will talk about what has already happened.  I’m eager for us to move forward and we are choosing today because it’s about a hundred days until the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the enrollment begins October 1st, one hundred days.  And it is one year this week since the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.  So, we have a lot to celebrate and that’s why we’re proud to stand before the flags to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to pay tribute to the Secretary and the President for their leadership in making that freedom possible for the people of our country. 

“Secretary Sebelius is a great Secretary.  Her implementation of this is fabulous.  She was the Governor of Kansas, she was the Insurance Commissioner, she knows of what she speaks, she knows it in detail.  More important than that, she has a vision for America that has health care as a right for every person, not just a privilege for the few.  In that spirit, I am pleased to introduce the distinguished Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.”

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[Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks]

“What could be more eloquent than our guests here today telling their personal stories?  They are joined here on the podium by many friends who helped pass the Affordable Care Act and now to implement it.  Whether it is students who are ‘invincibles,’ whether it is the National Physicians Alliance, whether it is the American Nurses Association, the Catholic Hospital Association, individual nurses, Dr. Hailey Teash, Pediatrics Instructor at Harvard Medical School – just the list goes on and on.  I thank them for joining us, all suited up…

[Laughter]

“…for care.  And in closing, I just want to say this because our guests said it so beautifully and our Secretary has led us so magnificently, as well as our President, President Obama, on this and other subjects.  I tell this story because it is a way of thanking all of you.  The morning after the affordable health care bill passed the House of Representatives, Mr. Hoyer, and Mr. Clyburn, and Mr. Becerra, and my other colleague Rosa DeLauro, and other colleagues who were here, our Ranking Member on the Small Business Committee [Ms.] Nydia Velázquez, our Vice Chair of the Caucus, Mr. Crowley, other Members and Members of the leadership, Mr. Andrews chair of our policy committee, along with Congresswoman DeLauro.  And let’s see, who did I not mention of our Members?  [Mr.] Paul Tonko, Mr. [G.K.] Butterfield from North Carolina, Don Payne, one of our newest Members of Congress from New Jersey.  Robin Kelly our second newest Member of Congress and she’s from Illinois.  Marcia Fudge, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, just so wonderful, thank you and we have work to do to offset what the court did yesterday. 

Ms. Fudge.  That’s right.

[Mr.] Sandy Levin our Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Committee, [Mr.] Keith Ellison, our Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.   Any other Members?  Some have come and gone.  [Mr.] Joe Kennedy was here.  [Mr.] Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, a champion on this issue.  And so these and others who were in here and now had to go to their committee meetings.  But I thank them and I thank our guests and I thank all of you.

“Madam Secretary has heard me tell this story, as have my colleagues, but in case there is anybody in the room that hasn’t heard it, I’ll tell it again in the spirit of independence, of freedom, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The morning after the bill passed, I began – the President called and said: ‘Last night when the Affordable Care Act passed the Congress, the House of Representatives, I was happier than the day, night I was elected President of the United States.’  I said: ‘Mr. President’ – right Steny? – ‘we were all very happy too last night, but we weren’t happier than you were – the night you were elected President of the United States because if you weren’t elected President of the United States, it would not have happened.  But your inspiration, your leadership, your signature and the rest.’  And so, it couldn’t happen without him.  But I say that to all of you: it could not have happened without all of you – it took everything. 

“So, I hope it’s a level of satisfaction to all of you as we go into the implementation, as we liberate the American people from the fear of illness and the cost associated with it.  That you take personal satisfaction in the role that all of you played in order for us to pass the affordable health care to provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.  Thank you all very much for being with us today.”