Pelosi Remarks at Press Event on GOP Attacks on Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions Ahead of 6th Anniversary of SCOTUS Upholding the ACA


Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined her fellow House Democrats and people with pre-existing conditions for a press event to condemn Republicans’ latest attacks on protections for people with pre-existing conditions, building up to the 6th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.

Leader Pelosi.   As our Members and guests are filling in, I want to acknowledge so many of the leadership, the groups that were so important in passing the Affordable Care Act and saving the Affordable Care Act.  It’s important to note that many of these organizations participated, over ten thousand events across the country when the Republicans introduced their Trumpcare bill.  Ten thousand to defeat that.

Unfortunately, the Republicans went on in the tax bill, a bill to give – a tax scam to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.  They eliminated the individual mandate and that is their justification for going to court to say that that shouldn’t exist.  They want to eliminate the individual, the pre-existing conditions benefits.  It’s a problem.

Are we all here?  We’re all gathered?  Okay.

Good morning.  And so, let us applaud the group.  Yes, applaud yourselves.

I particularly want to acknowledge the National Coalition for Cancer [Survivorship] that is so represented here.  Thank you so much for being here.

I’m pleased to be here.  We’ll be hearing from our distinguished Whip, Mr. Hoyer, our Ranking Member of the Education and Workforce Committee, Congressman Bobby Scott, Congresswoman Judy Chu who is the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Representative Joe Kennedy.

But, in addition to that, we’ve been joined by: our colleague from Los Angeles, Jimmy Gomez; the Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham; from Rhode Island, Congressman James Langevin; Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California; Brad Schneider of Illinois; Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Committee, a real champion on this issue as they all are, but I do acknowledge Richie Neal of Massachusetts; our Ranking Member to be, or Chair to be, on the Veterans Affairs Committee, Mark Takano; Congresswoman Betty McCollum of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and our distinguished Assistant Leader, Mr.  Clyburn of South Carolina.  Any other Members?  Earl Blumenauer, where’s Earl?  Oh, I didn’t see him.  Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

I know Members will be coming in as we are gathered, but just to get us organized now that we are in place.

Tomorrow marks the six year anniversary, six years since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, ensuring a future of affordable, quality care for millions of Americans.  Not only expanding access to health care, but improving the benefits for over 125 million families.

Yet, for six years, Republicans have waged a cruel, fevered campaign to raise families’ health cost, gut their coverage and sabotage their care.  This is wrong.  This is wrong.

After the American people rose up, as I said ten thousand events.  Voices, voices of our Little Lobbyists, voices of our patient groups and the rest.  After the American people rose up to defeat the monstrosity of Trumpcare, Republicans are now trying to revive the most brutal provision once more – this time, in the courts.  They are using a lawsuit to drag us back to the dark days of discrimination against the 130 million Americans who have a pre-existing medical condition.

Today, we will hear stories of the Americans who are bearing the costs of the GOP’s sabotage, whose health care will never be safe with Republicans in control of Washington.

I just want to acknowledge my colleagues who are here.  We’ve been joined by Congresswoman Lois Frankel of Florida, welcome.  I do want to say — and all my colleagues would agree — that our special guests are our VIPs and I want to acknowledge Hannah Crabtree, you’ll be hearing from, Ola Ojewumi, Randy Broad and Jaime Ledezma.  I want to thank them because their voices are the most eloquent, their stories are the most compelling and without them we could not have defeated the monstrosity of Trumpcare and now we want to protect the benefit of pre-existing conditions so I thank them for their generosity of time, spirit and their courage to speak out.  And with that, I am pleased to yield our distinguished House Democratic Whip, Mr. Hoyer of Maryland.

 

***

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Clyburn.  On behalf of all of our colleagues, I thank Ola and Hannah and Jaime and Randy for their moving testimony.  So eloquent.  We would like to have their stories stand because that is the most important message but I am happy to take a question or two.  Mr. Clyburn will probably take the most difficult ones.

Yes Chad [Pergram], how are you?

Q:  Thank you for having us.  Obviously a lot of people cipher through this loss by Joe Crowley last night, obviously you – 

Leader Pelosi.  Excuse me, one second, I’d be happy to answer any question in that regard but for the moment I’d like to stay on the subject of why we’re here, to talk about the discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions.  That is the current form of undermining the Affordable Care Act that Republicans are engaged in.  Question on that.

Q: On that topic, do you support Medicare for all?

Leader Pelosi.  I think we should put everything on the table, I support health care for all.  Medicare is a wonderful benefit, but it’s not as good as the Affordable Care Act if you are under 65.  Let’s put it on the table.  See what the benefits are.  How they compare.  What the costs are to the patient or consumer.  Hopefully not a patient, but consumer.  And that, we go from there.

It’s about health care for all. What that path is, my view is the Affordable Care Act as we expand that.  But if you are 55 years old and you are on the Affordable Care Act, you have better benefits than if you are on Medicare.

We have to include Medicare which is part of what we put together, and will be presenting.  How we would improve Medicare so that it is a more comprehensive benefit.  Anybody else on this subject of health care?  I thank all of our folks here for being here.

Q:  Thank you for coming back to me.  Everyone is trying to cipher through what this loss means.  Obviously at some point you are not going to be here. Mr. Clyburn’s not going to be here.  Mr. Hoyer’s not going to be here.

Leader Pelosi.   Not so fast, not so fast!  Are you going to be here?

[Laughter]

Q:  Well I don’t have to stand for election.  That said, what does this lost mean about possible succession in the Democratic ranks.  You know, finding the right people to lead at the right time.  He was someone who was considered to be moving up the latter.

Leader Pelosi.  Yes, well Joe Crowley is a very valued Member of Congress, a great gentleman, as you saw in the dignity of his concession last night to Alexandria [Ocasio Cortez].  He is, again, a valued member.  We’ll miss him, but he has extraordinary talent, and we may see him in the public sector again.

It’s interesting to me as one involved in the arena for a long time.  Everyone has all their analysis within hours of the election taking place.  I’m very proud of the fact that in my very diverse district, I got 140,000 votes.  One of my highest votes, the highest vote in California in this election even though, as I said, my district is ever-changing, becoming more beautiful, I always say the beauty is in the mix.

So, again, we have to analyze how this – people say it’s because of this or that.  It’s because of the – because of a number of things.  But within 24 hours, we don’t have that analysis.

What it means here is Members will choose their Leaders, as they do, people are elected in the Caucus.  It’s not about me setting somebody up, just as I was chosen [by] just breaking ranks and running.  Others will.  And that’s the beauty of it all.

Q:  Republicans say one of the things this district shows is that democratic socialists have ascended on the party.

Leader Pelosi.  No. They’re not.  It’s ascending in that district, perhaps, but I don’t accept any characterization of our party presented by the republicans.  So, let me reject that right now.  Right, Mr. Clyburn?  You can join in any time.

Our party is a big tent.  Our districts are very different one from the other, as I said, I am viewed and spend tens of millions of dollars characterizing me or caricaturizing me as a left-wing person.  In my district, they call me a corporate pawn because my district is so progressive.  So, it isn’t about that.  It’s about representation.

Each of our Members is elected to be the independent representative of their district.  Their job description and their job title are one and the same: representative.  So, nobody’s district is representative of somebody else’s district.  It’s just a sign of vitality of our party, not a rubber stamp.

Again, as I said to Chad [Pergram], we’re calling each other by first names here, the beauty is in the mix.

Q:  Leader Pelosi, to that end, the Democratic Party is increasingly younger, more female, more diverse, more progressive.  Should the democratic House leadership look that way? 

Leader Pelosi.  I’m female, I’m progressive, and the rest.  [Laughter] What’s your problem? Two out of three ain’t bad.

[Laughter and applause]

They made a choice in one district.  Let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that.  Within the Caucus or outside the Caucus.

We are, again, we have an array of genders, generations, geography, and there is opinion in our Caucus, and we’re proud of that.  The fact that in a very progressive district in New York, it went more progressive than – well, Joe Crowley is a progressive – but more to the left than Joe Crowley, is about that viewed as something that stands for anything else.

Are we excited about another generation of people coming into the Congress?  I am particularly excited that so many women are running across the country, because when I came to Congress usually people raised their families or done something else before they came.  The men were an average ten years younger when they came.

Now we have women stepping up earlier, weighing home and work in a way that’s going to benefit all of the American people.

Thank you all very much.

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