Pelosi Remarks at Milwaukee Press Event Sounding the Alarm on GOP Health Care Sabotage
Milwaukee – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined health care advocates at a press event to sound the alarm on Republicans’ continued sabotage of Americans’ health care. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Thank you so much for your kind welcome and your warm words in your introduction. I accept them on behalf of Members of the House Democratic Caucus whose courage enabled us to do so many things and the important passage of the Affordable Care Act. Let me just salute your Congresswoman from this area. Gwen Moore is a person of great knowledge, deep values, effective planning, love of her district, of her state, and, again, commands great respect in the Congress of the United States.
She was right there in the fight for the Affordable Care Act and she continues to fight for the provisions of it and what it means to the American people. It is an honor to be here at IndependenceFirst. I thank the members of the board for their leadership at making this important facility and the services you provide – 10,000 people directly, 20,000 additional indirectly – how wonderful.
It will be great to hear from Dr. Kraig of Citizen [Action] – thank you for the role that Citizen [Action] and all the outside groups played in the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. [Joan] Prince, thank you, for sharing your story with us, again, presenting some of the leadership that Congresswoman Gwen Moore has presented to the country successfully.
Candice [Owley] – yes, taking the profit out of health care – that is what we are going to have to do, thank you for what you do. Stephanie [Sue Stein]– wow – you covered the whole waterfront for progressive seniors. As a progressive senior myself, I am taking note.
Dr. [Rebecca] Bernstein, it is hard to think of you as a physician, you had one of my grandchildren, but that’s okay.
Thank you especially for taking care of people on the lower economic scale. Kim [Stocke], as a caregiver and a mom who takes care of children with special needs, thank you, thank you.
We know what the challenge is, let’s find some places where we can be hopeful and one of the reasons I am hopeful is that so many of you are working to make sure the public is aware of what is happening to their health care. President Lincoln said, ‘Public sentiment is everything. With it, you accomplish almost anything, without it, almost nothing.’ But in order for public sentiment to prevail, people have to know. The people here are trying to make sure people know what it means to them – what it means to them when Republicans in Congress sabotage health care – sabotaging health care by trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, they weren’t able to do that, thanks to Senator McCain, Senator Murkowski and Senator Collins, they weren’t able to do that.
Let me tell you why: we take great pride and great responsibility for our maneuvering in Congress but that success would not have been achieved without the outside mobilization – thank you Dr. Prince, thank you all. Ten thousand events took place across the country with people telling their personal stories.
The Little Lobbyists, little children in wheelchairs, now some of them for a year and a half, little children – four, five, six years old and their siblings who care so much for them – lobbying Congress, participating in their communities, in the Capitol, just in every possible way – press conferences, marches and the rest – to protect their health care. Little Lobbyists. Little children are doing that.
Sabotage takes the form of the tax scam where 83 percent of the benefits go to the top 1 percent and causing a $2 trillion deficit when you include interest on the national debt.
And what do they do, ‘Well, we have an increase in the national debt so we have to cut half a trillion dollars in Medicare, over a trillion dollars in Medicaid.’ Sabotage takes many forms in terms of changing policy, but also changing budgets and Gwen Moore sits right there on the budget committee and sees the budgets they present. Cutting Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, nutrition that contributes to the health and well-being of the American people.
But again, the public knows and the fact that the President promised in his campaign that he was going to make sure that he would lower prescription drug prices. In fact, he said that he would insist on being able to negotiate for lower prices, ‘We are going to negotiate like crazy.’ Well, ‘like crazy’ turned out to mean we are not going to negotiate at all. Because when he came out and made his statement about what he intended to do to bring down the cost of prescription drug prices, the list did not include the power of the Secretary to lower prices.
Don’t take it from me, take it from the stock market. Pharmaceutical company stocks soared upwards because the President reneged on the promise he made to negotiate for lower prices. We have had that agenda working with Gwen for a long time. We had in 2006, ‘6 for ‘06’ and one of the first bills we passed in the first 100 hours was to enable the Secretary to negotiate for lower prices but we couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate because we didn’t have 60 Democrats at that time and we could not get that into the mix.
We’ve indicated how much money pharmaceutical companies – some companies spend more money on advertising and advocacy than they do on research and development.
So anyway, let’s take it back to hope: the public is aware. In this election, the cost of prescription drugs, the undermining of Medicare, and the removal – imagine the removal – the removal of the benefit that a pre-existing condition not be an obstacle to care. They have that as a matter of public policy, it’s in their tax bill and now they are taking it to the court so they make sure it is eliminated. Who are these people? 125-130 [million] families in America have a pre-existing medical condition, as Joan mentioned, as Dr. Prince mentioned, every one of us is one phone call, one diagnosis, one accident away from a pre-existing condition.
So what we did with the Affordable Care Act is stake out as much as we could with a path for health care for all, as a right not a privilege. How could they not support a healthier America but everything they do – whether it’s eliminating the benefit of pre-existing conditions and denying it, but that’s what they’re doing – whether it’s undermining Medicare or a trillion dollars of cuts of Medicaid – our veterans, veterans’ benefits – children with disabilities.
Thank you for what you do. I just like to brag that my daughter, ever since she was a little girl wanted to be a teacher of children with special needs, and she has been for over 25 years. My son-in-law, he married to a different daughter, he too has over 25 years teaching children with special needs. This is something, a value that we, as a country, respect people for what they can do and not judge them for what they cannot.
Life and liberty – our Founders – in the Declaration of Independence, ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as the purpose of our nation and access to affordable, quality health care is a key to life, a healthier life, to liberty, to change jobs and not be job-locked because of benefits, and the pursuit of happiness whatever that is for you.
I work with these children and these families regularly, almost daily, and I will tell you one thing – don’t stand in the way of a mom or a parent and her meeting the needs of a child with special needs.
The knowledge and the beauty of seeing siblings helping meet the needs of their siblings.
This is about who we are as people, as humans, this is about humanity. It’s about America and it’s about something that we can do something about. Because everything that we see in this election – and not to make this political – but everything that we see in this election is about affordability of health care. Is the key issue. It’s about your health.
But it’s also about, people’s financial stability, because as has been mentioned there’s nothing can be an assault on that sometimes unexpected, sometimes on a regular basis, that undermines the financial stability of a family, in addition to the obscenity of undermining the health security of the family.
So, three things are looming out there. Change: lowering the cost of prescription drugs. It’s one of the biggest issues out there. Yesterday I was in – was that yesterday? It seems like longer – yesterday I was in Michigan and I was at a big rally with all the unions, mostly Teamsters but all the other unions too. And the purpose was to listen to what the impact of losing their pensions was in their personal lives. And we heard from 17 people, over half of them talked about the cost of prescription drugs. It related to financial security. They initiated that, ‘I’m losing my pension and this is the cost of prescription drugs.’ So this has permeated in every household in America of people in middle income families in our countries.
The rich, I don’t know how much they can afford of the endless cost of prescription drugs, but we know the people that we have to look after, this has to – prescription drugs, pre-existing conditions and undermining Medicare. Undermining Medicare.
Those relate to women’s reproductive health and the rest of that, there are other issues that weigh in on that but in terms of income and financial stability, those three issues totally undermine what the American people expect from us. And it’s ideological, it isn’t even philosophical.
The present leadership in the Congress, ideologically believes that Medicare should wither on the vine. That’s their expression, ‘wither on the vine.’ And they also believe that it should be, as was mentioned a voucher. ‘Here’s your voucher go find your care.’
So, that’s not what this is about, we’re talking about Medicare as a guarantee.
If you take away the guarantee, you take away Medicare. And the Medicare piece is such a big part of the middle income benefit. 60 percent, or something like that, of long-term care comes out of Medicaid and they want to cut 1.4 trillion, because you know we have to pay for this tax cut that we just gave to the top 1 percent.
So, again, let us all be grateful that [Congresswoman] Gwen Moore sits on the Budget Committee.
The budget of our country should be a statement of our national values. What is important to us as a nation should be invested in our resources. The education of our children, the health of our families, whatever.
The distinction between those two budgets is very clear. What effects people directly in their lives relates to health and good jobs and so we have A Better Deal. We think this is a raw deal. Democrats have a better deal. Better jobs, better pay, better future. More specifically, we are For the People. From lowering health care costs, increasing paychecks and for cleaning up the political system that allows these entities to come in with endless money. Endless money to undermine the health and financial security of the American people.
The assault on health care is so pervasive. The air we breathe, with what they’re doing at the EPA, and the air we breathe, the water our kids drink, the nutirition programs, cutting them, what they’re doing with Medicaid.
What is this about? What is this about? But what we want to do is not become them. We want to give people a path, show people hope. Because like we said, without the 10,000 meetings we would not have won. We would not have passed the Affordable Care Act without the outside mobilization that went with it.
They may have endless money but we have the people power, when people understand what it means, as Dr. King said. The ballot, legislation, your life. People see that connection and vote for themselves and their families’ wellbeing. So I just thank you all, for your organizations’ fight.
And I just want to say, I had the privilege over Easter/Passover – we were in Jordan on our way to see our troops in Afghanistan. I was in Jordan, and we went to a school where many of the Syrian refugee children were. And when we went, they put us into a room, they oriented us first and then we went to meet the children.
And why I bring it up is because in that room and the halls going into it, there were beautiful paintings, posters, drawings of wheelchairs. Wheelchairs with flowers, wheelchairs with doves, wheelchairs with angels – beautiful characterizations of wheelchairs. And I was so thrilled because of what we talked about earlier. Clearly some of the children who were coming in needed to have certain equipment including wheelchairs and this was like a glorification of meeting their needs it was such a beautiful thing to see kids who needed that to see it as a compliment.
We should be so much in the league of respecting the dignity and worth of every person, recognizing that health care is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So the hope is that people are aware. They understand whatever the outcome of whoever gets elected that that person knows that reducing the cost of prescription drugs, keeping hands off of Medicare and respecting the benefit of pre-existing conditions is solid and also all the other benefits.
And as Dr. [Robert] Kraig mentioned all of these things have become more than they started to be. The Affordable Care Act is a path to health care for all. Yes we expanded care to 20 million, more states have expanded Medicaid but also all of the families in America who had health care already had improved benefits at lower costs and better access, so it’s about lifted everyone up. That’s the path we have to get back on as we stop this sabotage and have respect for the dignity and worth of every person in our country. Honor of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our Founders, of our Veterans who so depend on some of these – expanded Medicaid and the rest. And of course addressing the aspirations of our children.
So thank you for all that you do, God bless you. This election has to make a difference.
And I want to thank [Congresswoman] Gwen Moore. I want you to know how highly she is respected in the Congress of the United States. A leader on all of the subjects we have talked about. Thank God she is a Member of Congress.