April 2, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H. Res. 271, calling for the Department of Justice to reverse its position in the Texas v. U.S. lawsuit and instead defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions and all Americans’ health care. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him for the leadership role he played in making America healthier and the original passage of the Affordable Care Act and protecting them – protecting it from the constant sabotage that the Republicans in the Congress and in the White House have exacted on the Affordable Care Act.
I want to pay special tribute to the outside groups: the patient advocacy groups, the Little Lobbyists, the children. So many people who spoke, told their stories – 10,000 events across the country – to oppose the Republican constant assault on the Affordable Care Act for the first two years of the Trump Administration.
A time when the President had the White House, the House and Senate, and could very well have passed legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, as they said they would do.
But they didn’t replace it because they don’t believe in a government role. Much about the Affordable Care Act has to do with Medicare and how we prolonged the life of Medicare and adjusted funding, so we could reduce the cost of prescription drugs for our seniors.
Republicans approach to Medicare is that it should wither on the vine – that there is no place in a free society, free economy for Medicare.
So, let’s just understand this – this is not just about the issue or the legislation of the Affordable Care Act. This is about a value system in our country, about understanding that health care is a right for all Americans, not just a privilege of those – yes, they can get pre-existing conditions covered with rates that go right through the ceiling and are a gift to the insurance industry, but not to make affordable care accessible to all – affordable and accessible to all.
So, here we are, in an unusual situation where the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and it is the responsibility of the Justice Department and the Administration to defend the law of the land in court.
What are they doing? Just the opposite. And why? Because they don’t believe in governance. That’s why they are happy to shut down government for any reason. They don’t believe in governance. They don’t believe in a public role in the well-being of the American people. They don’t believe in the Affordable Care Act.
And what they are trying to do is strike down every last provision of the ACA: protection for pre-existing conditions – I’ll come back to that – bans on lifetime and annual limits, the Medicaid expansion, Medicare solvency – going out for many more years – savings for seniors and their prescription drug costs, the vital premium assistance that makes health coverage affordable for millions of more families. All would be ended if the President and the Republicans in Congress get their way.
But I hope it’s not all Republicans in Congress, because I hope that some of them will care enough about their constituents and meeting their needs.
On the subject of pre-existing conditions: how many times during the campaign did they say, ‘Oh, we’re for pre-existing conditions,’ having voted it down over and over again? The misrepresentations were almost embarrassing. Let’s look the other way so we don’t embarrass them any further. It’s almost a joke, but it’s not funny if you have a pre-existing condition.
And what was interesting about the Affordable Care Act, it wasn’t just about expanding coverage to 20 million more people. That in itself would be a justification. It was about the over 150 million families who had better coverage on a trajectory of lower costs, better benefits, no pre-existing condition barrier, no lifetime limits, no annual limits and the rest. If your child is up to 26 years old, your child could be on your policy.
And, actually, the issue of subsidizing those so that everyone could participate and it would be affordable. Can we do more there? We certainly can, and we certainly will.
And so I just want to tell the story – as I said, the outside groups were so instrumental in saving us from the Republicans’ sabotage on the Affordable Care Act and on the good health of the American people.
The outside groups with, as I said, 10,000 events around the country telling stories. Nothing conveys more information and more understanding than people telling their own stories. The statistics are interesting, they’re staggering, but the stories are powerful and they make a difference.
I will tell the story I’ve told before. It’s about America’s families paying the price and America’s children paying the price for this Republican sabotage on the Affordable Care Act. The story I’d like to tell is about Zoe Madison Lihn.
Zoe was born with a congenital heart defect in May, 2010. She faced the first of her three heart surgeries at just 15 hours old. By six months old, Zoe was halfway through her lifetime limit that her insurer had placed on her case.
She faced a grim future, not just using up her lifetime limit by preschool, her lifetime limit was used up, but her pre-existing condition had not gone away: carrying a pre-existing condition that would require attention and care for the rest of her life.
Under the ACA, Zoe is protected. She will celebrate her ninth birthday next month, but the Republicans want to take all of that away, not only from Zoe, but their own constituents. Our Democratic House Majority will not let that stand.
As Dr. King said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.’ Our colleagues are used to our colleague, Whip Clyburn, telling that story – which, I think he heard Dr. King say.
On day one of this Congress, Freshman Member from Texas, Congressman Colin Allred led the way. House Democrats voted to throw the full legal weight of the House against the Texas lawsuit to destroy the ACA.
We salute Congressman Allred for his outstanding leadership to protect America’s families’ health and to reach out to the Republicans to join him in doing so. More than 190 Republicans voted to fully be complicit in that attempt to overthrow the ACA and tear away those health care protections.
Now, with this resolution, led by, again, by Congressman Allred, we call on our Republican colleagues to go on the record once more. Either they’ll vote for protecting their constituents’ health care or they will vote for taking it away. With this vote, we will see their values and their intentions.
House Democrats will always fight to protect families’ affordable health, quality of care. We don’t see it as an issue or legislation. We see it as a value, a value. It’s not just about health care, it’s about the good health of America, a source of our strength.
After we pass this resolution, we will continue to advance our transformative legislation to reverse the GOP health care sabotage, and we will lower health care costs and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
By the way, under the Affordable Care Act, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition. As a mother of five, I can attest to that being a pre-existing condition.
Democrats are For The People: lower health care costs by reducing the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition benefit, increasing wages by building infrastructure in a green way, and cleaning up – cleaner government. Lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government.
And once we get rid of – reduce the role of dark special interests money in Washington, D.C., people will have the confidence that it is possible that their voices will be heard more strongly than the voices of those who stand in the way of progress.
Three months ago from tomorrow, the Members of this institution, Democrats and Republicans, took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution of the United States – after the beautiful Preamble of our nation’s purpose, Article I the Legislative branch. The Legislative branch’s responsibilities are spelled out in the text of the Constitution.
This body, the first branch of government, voted to protect the health and well-being of the American people. It is the law of the land. It is the responsibility of the Executive Branch to protect the law of the land. They have departed from that and therefore departed from our oath to the Constitution – to protect and defend.
If they have a better idea, we haven’t seen it and, on top of that, the President said, ‘And you won’t see it until 2021 – after the 2020 elections.’
That’s just not good enough, Mr. President. The needs of the American people will not stop right now because you have stopped believing in them. The needs of the American people go on and we will continue this fight. We will fight in the Congress, we’ll fight in the courts, and in the court of public opinion.
I urge our colleagues, and hope we can have some Republican support from the other side of the aisle, to vote to protect America’s families and their health care and, therefore, strengthen America.
With that, I yield back, urge an aye vote and yield back the balance of my time.