Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on GOP Attacks on Pre-Existing Condition Protections in Trumpcare
Washington, D.C. – Today, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee Co-Chair Rosa DeLauro, House Budget Committee Ranking Member John Yarmuth, House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott and Americans that would be impacted by Trumpcare to discuss the bill’s impact on people with pre-existing conditions. Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:
“Good morning, everyone. I’m very honored to have some very special guests with us today – Maureen Murphy, Denise White-Jennings, Emily Todebush. They are our VIPs – very important people – so we’re honored to be joined by them.
“We’re understanding that the Republicans want to press forward with their latest version of Trumpcare – as they do so, they are reckoning devastation in the lives of America’s families. The latest Republican plan to gut essential health benefits and protections for pre-existing conditions make it impossible for millions of Americans to afford the health coverage they desperately need. This is deadly. This is deadly.
“Trumpcare means heart stopping premium increases for Americans with anything from asthma to cancer – the list goes on, and no Band-Aid amendment will fix it. If Republicans have their way, Americans with pre-existing conditions will be pushed off their insurance and segregated into high risk pools where they face soaring costs, worse coverage and restricted care – soaring costs, worse coverage, restricted care. It’s a frightening future for families who need affordable, dependable health care the most.
“The fight against Trumpcare is the fight for children. You’ve heard me – many of you – talk about Zoe Madison Lihn, born with a congenital heart defect in May 2010. Zoe faced her first three heart surgeries at the age of 15 hours. By six months old, Zoe was half-way to her lifetime limits her insurer placed on her care. Six months old. She faced a grim future, not only using up her lifetime limit by pre-school but carrying a pre-existing condition that will require attention and care for the rest of her life.
“Under the Affordable Care Act, Zoe is protected. Trumpcare puts Zoe’s future in very serious danger. Again, just even before we get to the pre-existing conditions catastrophe that they are foisting, Trumpcare means higher costs – out of pocket costs – for American families, over 24 million people losing health care coverage, gutting key protections, a crushing age tax if you’re 50 to 64 and stealing from Medicare.
“Republicans’ efforts to raise health costs for American families must end now. This is about health care being a right, not a privilege just for the wealthy who can afford it – but for everyone. It’s time for Republicans to abandon this moral monstrosity and pull the bill.
“So, let me say about their latest – because every time they’re in jeopardy in passing their bill, they make matters worse. They have this bill – which I said is increased costs, eliminates 24 million people, an age tax and the rest. The list can go on and on – I just named a few areas of unfairness to America’s working families. 56 percent of Republicans were against that, 17 percent were for it – so they [pull] the vote. So, they move to the right and set in jeopardy the essential benefits package. That’s a terrible thing. And the American people saw that – they not only disagreed with their bill, they disagreed with their values about children, maternity care, prenatal care, the list goes on.
“Now, they don’t have the votes, so they’re going further to the right – making it look like this is some kind of a compromise. But this is really just a duping. They think they can dupe the American people by saying, ‘Well, we were going to eliminate pre-existing conditions, but now instead, we’re going to give you $200 if you have a pre-existing medical condition.’ Please.
“With that, I’m pleased to yield to a champion of health care for all Americans as a right not a privilege – a person who has told her story and why she’s such a fighter for health care, the Ranking Member on the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of appropriations, Co-Chair of our Steering and Policy Committee and Member of our Leadership, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.”
Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks
“Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Thank you. I also want to acknowledge the Leadership of [Ranking Member] Bobby Scott and [Ranking Member] John Yarmouth because they are Ranking Members on the Committees of Jurisdiction. Along with [Richard] Neal of Ways and Means, Frank Pallone of Energy and Commerce, have been relentless in their leadership in spelling out what the consequences are and suggesting a better way. So I thank you, Ranking Members and Congresswoman DeLauro, wearing so many hats, including being a person with a preexisting condition, willing to share her story.
“And by the way, the Republicans have – when they started with their bill they had exempted themselves from any of the negatives conditions of this bill. Imagine that!
“Let me just say a couple of things, because the most compelling statements we have here are from experience, from Emily, and Denise, and her daughter’s story as she told us.
“One of the reasons they’re in a hurry is because they need this money to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in our country. This bill will have the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of our country. Robin Hood in reverse. Taking from the middle class and ripping it away from families in our country – $600 billion dollars and giving it to the wealthiest people. That is the goal of their tax bill, and they need this money from my health care, your health care, in order to do that. A.
“B. They’re rushing it without a CBO score, Congressional Budget Office report, which they themselves said never should happen. The letter from the Speaker when he was Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, to the CBO’s office said, ‘Don’t let them go through with it without a CBO report.’ And yet they’re doing that now.
“Dr. King, he said so beautifully, ‘of all the forms of injustice, the injustice of health care is the most inhumane and shocking,’ because people can die, because people can die. Of all the times traveling the country or in our personal lives, have heard people say, ‘my child would not be alive’ or ‘I would not be alive without the Affordable Care Act.’
“So now they again, in order to get votes have made matters worse. A terrible bill, made worse by playing down the essential benefits package. So this is a very important moment of truth. They are not legitimate they have put this forth to make it look like they have improved the bill – no it doesn’t improve the bill.
“This is an insult to the intelligence of the American people – worse than that, it is an assault on the good health of the American people.
“With that, I’m pleased to take a couple of questions if anyone has them.”
Q: With the whip count everyone is keeping, Republicans seem ready to bring this to the floor, but there was a meeting this morning, Congressman Fred Upton appear to being saying, ‘yes.’ Are you hearing anything new about whether the bill will be voted on this week?
Leader Pelosi. With all due disrespect, Mr. Upton has always been a yes, he’s always been a yes. So what can I say to you, people will say, ‘I’m a no, I’m maybe’ and give some fake reason… Upton has always been a yes.
Q: Are they any exchanges between you and Speaker Ryan?
Leader Pelosi. No – well with my staff, his staff may talk to them about scheduling, but what we are – the communications from the American people are calling into Congress and saying, ‘Stop it! The bill is terrible to begin with but the assault on preexisting conditions.’
There are two things, well many things in the Affordable Care Act, but the two things that have made a total difference in the lives of the American people when they had a diagnosis. One, is that a preexisting condition will not prevent you from receiving insurance, and also that you can afford it. And two, the time limits do not affect you – as I mentioned how that impacts what care you get.
And to say seeking bereavement is a pre-existing medical condition – it will say a woman who has suffered from domestic violence, she has a pre-existing medical condition.
So this pre-existing medical condition is central. It affects over 125 million people who have pre-existing medical conditions. The reason why health care professionals, nurses, doctors, health care providers, health centers and hospitals are against this is because everyone they deal with has a pre-existing condition. So again [in the words of] Dr. King, ‘people will die.’
Q: I know you’ve been talking a lot generally about this, but I’m just curious your specific response is to the idea that an $8 billion pool would help offset the cost for people in these new High Risk Pools?
Leader Pelosi. Thank you. Our Ranking Member on Budget [Yarmuth] spoke to that, and I will yield to him in a moment, but first I want to say this. What you would need is probably about $200 billion dollars over the next 10 years. What they’ve done is $8 million over 5 years. If you divide that by the number of people who have a pre-existing medical condition you get about $200 or $300 each.
Look at the Kaiser Family Foundation, look at some over the experts on this subject. It’s a joke. It’s a very sad, deadly joke. I yield to the distinguished Ranking Member on Budget.
Ranking Member Yarmuth. I would only add that the history of Congress pools is pretty discouraging. Before 2011, there were 35 states that had high-risk pools – they only insured 226,000 people. Most all of the states had high caps on annual and lifetime limits. The premiums were 150 to 200 percent of what the standard rate was in those areas.
So, the experience by and large has been terrible. I know in California, the Leader can speak to this more than I can but I think one out of six people try to get into the high-risk pool in California – they are not able to get into it. All of this – this state flexibility depends of governors and legislators that are compassionate.
I have a governor, who despite the fact that Kentucky has insured more people in percentage than any other state in the country, has reduced its uninsured rate by 20 percent to 70 percent. He wants to dismantle the whole system. So, I’m certainly not willing to say that allowing state flexibility for my governor to take care of the 880,000 people who have pre-existing conditions. I’m not going to trust him to be willing to take care of that. I think we’ll find that in many of the states that we’re dealing with.
Leader Pelosi. Once again, I want to thank our guests: Maureen Murphy, Denise White-Jennings and Emily Todebush, as well as our Ranking Members, Mr. Scott and Mr. Yarmuth, and our leader on this subject, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. And I think all of you. This is about life or death. This is about who gets the money. And that’s what you always have to look for in Republican bills – it’s always about: follow the money. This is about money going into the pockets of corporations and the richest people in our country at the expense of the good health of the American people. Thank you all very much.