Friday, May 17, 2013

Minority Leader Pelosi on "the transformative nature of the Affordable Care Act"

Ms. PELOSI. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his leadership and that of Mr. Levin and Mr. Waxman as the chairs of the three committees when this legislation, so transformative in the lives of the American people, was passed by the House of Representatives and now for coming to the floor today--I don't know what the word is--to even counter some of the ridiculousness that is being said on the other side of the aisle in relationship to the Affordable Care Act. The fact is that what's happening today is the Patients' Rights Repeal Act. That's what they want to do is repeal patients' rights.

Why are they doing this? Do you think it's a good idea to do this on Women's Health Week, to repeal legislation that gives a wide range of free preventive services to women, protection being dropped for women when they are pregnant or when they are sick and they no longer will be charged higher premiums than men? Of course the Republicans want to repeal that today on Women's Health Week. But knowing soon that a woman will no longer be a preexisting medical condition is just one piece of it.
The fact is this is not a serious effort to repeal the act. That's not going to happen. What this is is another example of jobs evasion in several ways.

First of all, it is our job to come here and act for the good of the American people. Right now, the American people see that good as the creation of jobs. What is it, 134 days into this Congress and the Republican majority has yet to vote one bill out to create jobs?

That's job evasion.

Here we are today with yet another one of their subterfuges. Let's not talk about jobs; let's use up time. What does it add up to? Up until now, it has been $54 million and 43-some days spent on this, the 37th effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

What we should be doing is what the Republicans have asked for, regular order, to go to the budget table, to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate so that we can put forth a budget that creates jobs, that reduces the deficit, that strengthens the middle class. Instead, we're wasting the taxpayers' dollars and time on legislation that is going to undermine protections for the American people when it comes to their health and well-being.

This bill today just gives us another opportunity for our side to talk about the transformative nature of the Affordable Care Act.

If there were no reason to pass such a bill, if everyone loved his or her own health care and health insurance premiums, if that were the case, we would still have had to pass the legislation because the status quo in health care in our country was unsustainable from a financial standpoint. It was unsustainable for families, for individuals, for small businesses, and for corporate America.

The cost of health care was a competitiveness issue. As we try to retain our position as number one in the world--a competitive issue--the cost of health care was rising. It certainly was unsustainable for cities, States, and the Federal Government. Our budget could not sustain the rapid increase of health care to our budget.

That is why, when the Speaker asked, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office responded by informing House Republicans in a letter sent yesterday reiterating that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years. They said that this is a figure that they had given the Speaker last July. There may be some little changes in it between now and then, but that was approximately where the figures were.

So if you want to reduce the deficit, you don't repeal the Affordable Care Act because you will increase the deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years. The purpose of the bill was not only to improve the quality of health care, increase accessibility to many more people and to lower the cost, but that in lowering the cost, it would reduce the deficit.

So it's a bill, and pretty soon many more Americans will be taking advantage of it. So far, over 100 million Americans have taken advantage of the preventive services and over 100 million Americans are no longer subjected to lifetime limits on their insurance coverage. That's a remarkable thing. Seniors who are in the doughnut hole have seen their prescription drug costs reduced by around $6 billion. Right now young people can stay on their parents' insurance policy until they're 26 years old.

The list goes on and on about the preventive exams that are free to seniors. The list goes on and on about what benefits the action that the Republicans are taking today would repeal that are good for the health and well-being of the American people. This bill is not just about health care; it's about the good health of the American people.

[Time: 16:40]

It's about prevention. It's about wellness. It's about electronic medical records that will change everything in terms of access to care and the quality of your care because your records are wherever you are. It's entrepreneurial.

Our Founders, in their dedication, in their sacrifice, in their courage called for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as goals of our new Republic, of our democracy; and this bill honors the vows of our Founders in just that way--a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness. If you're an artist or if you're a photographer or a writer, if you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, whatever it is, you are no longer job-locked because you can only go as fast in reaching your passion and your aspirations as your health insurance program will take you.

If you have a child with a preexisting medical condition, or if you're concerned with being sick yourself, you no longer are confined in your pursuit of happiness by the cost of a health care premium or the ability to even get one. It is entrepreneurial.

We even see articles now, and, Mr. Chairman, you have pointed them out in the public media about young people, or not even young people, but people who want to leave companies and start their own businesses. They're waiting for this bill to be fully implemented so they have that freedom to go forth.

So while I think it is a waste of the public's time to take this bill up on the floor of the House, to hear my colleagues talk on the floor, you think either they don't know what they're talking about, or they do. But in either case, they're not presenting the facts about what this legislation does.

It is going to be right up there with Social Security and Medicare as pillars of economic and health security for the American people. It is going to make us more competitive internationally because our businesses will not have an anvil of the rising cost of health care. It reduces the deficit, improves the health and well-being of the American people. It's about the entrepreneurial spirit of America. It honors the vows of our Founders of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This legislation should be rejected; and pretty soon more people, as they take advantage of the legislation, will see just how important it is to them individually and how important it is to the health and well-being of our country.


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