Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to House GOP Vote to Take Away Health Care Protections for Millions of Americans

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today in opposition to House Republicans’ vote to repeal health care protections for millions of Americans.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.  Madam Speaker, more than two years ago, we put forth a vision for America’s middle class to ensure health care would be a right, not a privilege for a few, but a right for all Americans.  Today, and yesterday, the past two days, as they’ve done more than 30 times in this Congress, Republicans are set to take away that right.

Over the past two days we have heard the talking points of the health insurance industry.  They’re trying to drown out the facts.  And the facts are these: what is the takeaway from this debate?  The takeaway is that the protections House Republicans are voting to take away from America’s families.  Today, up to 17 million children have the right to health care coverage even if they have diabetes, asthma, leukemia, or any other pre-existing medical condition.  Put next to that, Republicans want to take away protections for children with pre-existing conditions.

“Today, all young adults have the right to get insurance on their parents’ policy.  Republicans want to take away that right from America’s students and young people – coverage for young adults.  Put an ‘X’ next to that.  Today, 5.3 million seniors have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.  Republicans want to take away prescription drug savings for seniors.  Today, small business owners have used tax credits to help them afford insurance already for two million additional people and the bill is not fully effect.  Republicans want to take away the tax credits for businesses to help their entrepreneurship and job creation.  Today, nearly 13 million Americans are set to benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from health insurance companies.  Republicans want to take away those cost savings from America’s families.

“Today, American women have free coverage, they have a right to free coverage for life-saving preventive care like mammograms.  Starting in August, women will gain free access to a full package of preventive services.  No longer will being a woman be a pre-existing medical condition.  But Republicans want to take away those protections from women and all Americans.  Many across the country have heard our Republican colleagues claim that very few people are affected by the pre-existing condition of the law.  The fact is: Republicans are wrong.  The fact is, you be the judge: 138 million Americans have a pre-existing medical condition.

“I’ll ask our friends on the other side of the aisle: do you know anyone with breast cancer? Or prostate cancer?  With asthma, with diabetes – the list goes on and on.  People with disabilities.  With this bill that you have on the floor today, you will take away their right to affordable coverage.  And that’s why the American Cancer Society opposes this repeal effort – on behalf of, their quote: ‘13 million cancer patients and survivors [who] need access to adequate and affordable coverage.’  That’s why they oppose this repeal effort.  The American Cancer Society.  Do you know any of the millions of people living with a disability?  With this bill, you will take away people with disabilities right to quality, affordable care.  That’s why Easter Seals wrote that: ‘millions of parents of children with disabilities are breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing their children will not be dropped from their insurance.’  Do you know any parents of children with diabetes or asthma or childhood leukemia?  Do you know any?  With this bill, you will take away the right of these children to affordable care throughout their lives.  That’s why the American Diabetes Association, on behalf of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes, urged us to oppose this bill – to quote: ‘protect people with diabetes who for too long have been discriminated against because of their disease.’

“My Republican colleagues are taking away patient protections for millions of Americans – protections you as a Member of Congress already enjoy.  That’s a betrayal of fundamental fairness.  I think that that’s an undermining of fundamental fairness.  If you repeal this bill, which means you keep your federal health insurance benefits while you take these patient protections away from the American people.  What a valentine to the health insurance industry.  When I think of the people protected by this law, I always remember the powerful testimonial at a hearing last year from Stacie Ritter, whose twin daughters, Hannah and Madeline, are both cancer survivors.  At four years old, they’re twins, at four years old both were diagnosed with leukemia, Hannah and Madeline faced stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, and total body irradiation.  Yet, over time, Stacie said: ‘we ended up bankrupt, even with full insurance coverage.’  Today, Hannah and Madeline are healthy, happy 13-year olds.  And according to Stacie: ‘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.’  We passed the Affordable Care Act for people like Stacie, Hannah, and Madeline.  We passed it for some of the people we heard from today at an earlier meeting and Madam Speaker I ask unanimous consent to submit this statement for the record.  I urge my colleagues to think about them, to think about Stacie and her children when they cast a vote to take away their rights and protections.

“Here’s what the Affordable Care Act is about: strengthening the middle class, honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of our country, putting medical decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors.  This is about innovation, prevention, and wellness.  It’s about restoring and reigniting the American dream, and living up to the vows of our founders of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’  A healthier life.  The liberty and freedom to pursue happiness as defined by your own passion, your own talent, your feelings, your own aspirations.  You want to start a business, if you want to be self-employed, if you want to change jobs, you are not job locked because your decision about your job, your career, and your life has to be predicated by your health insurance company.  That’s what this freedom is in this one week from the 4th of July that we celebrate with this bill.

“With the Affordable Care Act, we now, to make the American dream a reality for all, Republicans must stop this effort to take away patient protections from Americans.  Let’s review them again: ‘GOP Taking Away From Americans,’ this is the take away from this debate.  Take away, the Republicans say, protections for children with pre-existing conditions.  Take away prescription drug savings for seniors.  Take away coverage for young adults.  Take away preventive health services for women.  Take away the no lifetime limits, so important to so many families in America.

“We must work together on Americans’ top priorities: job creation and economic growth.  This bill creates four million jobs, it reduces the deficit, it enables our society to have the vitality of everyone rising to their aspirations without being job locked, as I said.  The American people want us to create jobs.  That’s what we should be using this time on the floor for.  Not on this useless ‘bill to nowhere.’  Bill to nowhere that does serious damage to the health and economic wellbeing of America’s families.  I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on this bill and let us move forward together to strengthen the economy and to strengthen the great middle class, which is the backbone of our democracy.”

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