Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks this morning at the 2011 Families USA Conference on Health Action. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Ron [Pollack] for that kind introduction and for your remarkable leadership. When the story is told of how health care reform was made possible, Ron Pollack has a starring role. He was strategic, tenacious, and determined.
“Ron was supported by all of you - the Families USA network of advocates: you are a family of grassroots warriors for health care reform. You wrote hundreds of letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, held thousands of events in every state in the nation, generated hundreds of thousands of phone calls to Members of Congress, and sent countless email messages to your representatives. Thank you.
“I'd also like to acknowledge the staff of Families USA - some of our nation's most savvy, most strategic, and most committed advocates.
“I know that later today you will salute the heroes for America's families: Sister Carol Keenan and Sister Simone Campbell. We would not have been able to move forward without their courage and leadership. In the final weeks:
• Sister Carol wrote to every Member of Congress and said: ‘The next several weeks offer what is most probably the best opportunity to…make real and significant progress toward improving the lives and health security of millions of Americans. We hope that you will step up to the challenge before us to make [health care] reform a reality.'
• Sister Simone said, ‘[Health care reform] is the way to affirm life, provide for those whom the market has left out, and bring down insurance costs…It is time to move beyond politics and grandstanding. We need healthcare reform now.'
“Their leadership, and yours, made health care reform possible.
“But one year ago, some felt that our chances of passing health care reform were slipping away. We had a secret weapon that they weren't counting on; we had you.
“As I said, ‘You go through the gate. If the gate's closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we'll pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we'll parachute in. But we're going to get health care reform passed for the American people.'
“Together, we passed health care reform for the American people. And now we will protect this signature accomplishment.
“We will protect health care for Americans like Hannah and Madeleine.
“I heard their story just last week, in the one and only hearing on the repeal of patient's rights. Their mom, Stacie Ritter, told their family's story.
“At just four years old, Hannah and Madeline were diagnosed with leukemia, and suffered through stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, and total body irradiation. But as their mother Stacie said, ‘We were very fortunate at the time. My husband had full coverage through his employer.' But because the additional cost of health care, ‘we ended up bankrupt, even with full insurance coverage.'
“Today, Hannah and Madeline are healthy, happy 12-year olds. But they still have a pre-existing condition. And according to Stacy, ‘My children now have protections from insurance discrimination based on their pre-existing cancer condition. They will never have to fear the rescission of their insurance policy if they get sick. They can look forward to lower health insurance costs and preventative care.' By protecting health care reform, we will protect the 17 million American children - and 129 million Americans - with pre-existing conditions.
“We will protect health care reform for Americans like Ed Burke, who testified at the same hearing, and came to our attention through the Families USA story bank. For much of his life, Ed Burke has suffered from hemophilia. Though he has health insurance, he has faced the constant worry that his treatments could surpass his plan's lifetime cap. As he said, ‘I will lose the freedom to keep my job if efforts to repeal my protections are successful.'
“We will protect Ed's freedom, and the freedom of 165 million Americans with private insurance coverage, from again being subject to lifetime limits on their health care.
“We will protect the freedom of 1.2 million young Americans to stay on their parents' plans until age 26.
“We will protect the tax credits 4 million small businesses receive to provide health insurance to their employees.
“We will protect 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries from again falling into the donut hole and we will protect the right of 44.1 million seniors to receive a free annual check-up.
“And we will protect our federal budget. Repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next ten years.
“Repeal will be met with firm opposition: from me, from you. And we must not allow their attacks to go unanswered.
“Thank you, Families USA, for your new report, ‘Guilty of a Double Standard' about those who oppose health care reform while receiving federal health insurance. You shouldn't have to run for Congress to have the same kind of health care as a Member of Congress.
“Together, let's move forward, never back, to strengthen America: protecting health care, creating jobs, and building the nation that we want for children like Hannah and Madeleine.
“Two years ago, I came to the Families USA Health Action Conference and said: ‘We have millions of health care providers in America. They are [mothers and fathers. They are] called families.'
“It's for America's families that we passed health care reform, and we could not have done it without Families USA.
“Thank you Families USA!”