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Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to House GOP Patients' Rights Repeal Act

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to oppose the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act and call on House Republicans, who have now voted 37 times to repeal The Affordable Care Act, to focus on Americans number one priority: job creation.  Below are her remarks:

“I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his leadership, and that of Mr. Levin, and Mr. Waxman as the chairs of the three committees, when this legislation, so transformative in the lives of the American people, was passed by the House of Representatives, and now, for coming to the floor today to – I don’t know what the word is – to even counter some of the ridiculousness that is being fed on the other side of the aisle in relationship to the Affordable Care Act. The fact is that what’s happening today is the Patient Rights’ Repeal Act.  That’s what they want to do is repeal patients’ rights.

“Why are they doing this?  Do you think this would be a good idea to do this on Women’s Health Week?  To repeal legislation that gives a wide range of free preventive services to women, their protection being dropped, for women when they are pregnant, or when they are sick?  That no longer, will they, under the bill, no longer will they be charged higher premiums than men.  Of course, the Republicans want to repeal that today – Women’s Health Week.  That knowing soon being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition, just one piece of it.  The fact is: this is not a serious effort to repeal the act.  That’s not going to happen.  What this is, is another example of job evasion, jobs evasion in several ways.

“First of all, it is our job to come here and act for the good of the American people.  And right now the American people see that good as the creation of jobs.  What is it, 134 days into this Congress?  And the Republican majority has yet to put forth one bill, vote one bill out to create jobs, to have evasion.  Here we are today with yet another one of their subterfuges: ‘let’s not talk about jobs.  Let’s use up time.’  And that adds to – what has been up until now – $54 million dollars, 43, some days spent on this – the 37th effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  What we should be doing is what the Republicans have asked for: regular order, to go to the budget table, to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate, so that we can put forth a product, a budget that creates jobs, that reduces the deficit, that strengthens the middle class.

“Instead, we are wasting the taxpayer’s dollars and time on legislation that is going to undermine protections for the American people when it comes to their health and well-being.  This legislation, this bill today, just gives us another opportunity for our side to talk about the transformative nature of the Affordable Care Act.  If there were no reason to pass such a bill, if everyone loved his or her health care and health insurance premiums, if that were the case, we would still have had to pass legislation because the status quo in health care in our country was unsustainable from a financial standpoint.  It was unsustainable for families, for individuals, for families it was unsustainable; it was unsustainable for small businesses; it was unsustainable for corporate America.  The cost of health care was a competitiveness issue, as we try to be, to retain our position as number one in the world, a competitive issue, cost of health care, the rising health care.  And it was certainly unsustainable for cities, states, and the federal government.  Our budget could not sustain the rapid increase of health care to our budget. 

“And so that’s why, when the Speaker asked, the CBO responded by reiterating in a letter sent yesterday.  Yesterday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office informed House Republicans, in a letter, that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $109 billion over the next ten years.  They said that this was a figure they had given the Speaker last July – there may have been some changes between now and then, but that was approximately where the figure stood.  So, if you want to reduce the deficit, you don’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, because in doing so, you increase the deficit by $109 billion over the next ten years.  And the purpose of the bill was not only to make health care, improve the quality of health care, increase the accessibility to many more people, and to lower the cost, but that in lowering the cost, it would reduce the deficit.

“So, it’s a bill – it’s, pretty soon many more Americans will be taking advantage of it.  But so far, over 100 million Americans have taken advantage of the preventive services.  Over a hundred million Americans, over a hundred million Americans are no longer subjected to lifetime limits on their insurance coverage.  That’s a remarkable thing.  Six millions seniors have seen their prescription drug costs be reduced – those who are in the donut hole, by around $6 billion.  Young people can stay on there, right now today, on their parents’ insurance policy until they are 26 years old.  The list goes on and on about the preventive – exams that are free to seniors – the list goes on and on about what benefits, the action that the Republicans are taking today, would repeal that are good for the health and well-being of the American people.

“Now, this is bill is not just about health care.  It’s about the good health of the American people.  It’s about prevention.  It’s about wellness.  It’s about electronic medical records that will make, change everything in terms of access to care and the quality of your care, because your records are wherever you are.  It’s entrepreneurial – our founders, in their dedication, in their sacrifice, in their courage called for a life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as gold of our new Republic, of our democracy.  And this bill honors the vows of our founders in just that way – a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness.  If you’re an artist, or if you’re a photographer, if you’re a painter, if you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, whatever it is, you are no longer job-locked because you can only go as fast in reaching your passion and your aspirations as your health insurance program will take you.  If you have a child with a pre-existing medical condition, or if you’re concerned about being sick yourself, you no longer are confined in your pursuit of happiness by the cost of a health care premium, or the ability to even get one.

“It is entrepreneurial, we even see articles now, Mr. Chairman, you have pointed them out in the public media, about young people, or not even young people, but people who want to leave companies and start their own businesses.  They’re waiting for this bill to be fully implemented so they have that freedom to go forth.  So while I think it is a waste of the public’s time to take this bill up on the floor of the House, to hear my colleagues talk before – you’d think they either don’t know what they’re talking about, or they do, and in either case, it is not, they are not presenting the facts about what this legislation does.

“It is going to be right up there with Social Security and Medicare – the pillars of economic and health security for the American people.  It is going to make us more competitive internationally because our businesses will not be, have an angle of the cost, of the rising cost of health care.  It reduces the deficit.  It improves the health and well-being of the American people.  It’s about the entrepreneurial spirit of America.  It honors the vows of our family, founders of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It is – this legislation should be rejected and pretty soon more people, as they take advantage of the legislation, we’ll see, just how and important it is to them individually, and how important it is to the health and well-being of our country.

“With that Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.”