The Data Agenda

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pelosi: Democrats are "very pleased" and "pretty excited" about ACA implementation

Pelosi Press Conference Today
May 9, 2013
Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference today in the Capitol Visitor Center. From her transcript of the press conference:

Q: Next week, it sounds like they are going to vote once again to repeal Obamacare. I wonder what you think about the wisdom of that and also the fact that apparently this is such a popular subject for the new class of Republicans that they have been clamoring for the leadership finally to do.

Leader Pelosi. Finally do it? This is, what, the 40th time they will do it, isn't it? 38, 39, 40, 41? Somebody told me 40.

Q: I think it is 39.

Leader Pelosi. 39? High 30s. So, I don't know what the clamor is. I don't know what the clamor is. It seems like a week doesn't go by that some version of it isn't there. But we are very pleased that we are coming to a place now where we are going into implementation, that the insurance companies are putting forth their proposals. That will be – then people will know what their choices are. Some of this will be promulgated as we go along, and then starting October 1st, people will be able to sign up until March 31 – and it is pretty exciting. It is going to be something so remarkable in terms of prevention and wellness, it is going to be something so great in terms of technology, and not in that bill, but provided for in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act where we have the medical, electronic medical records and all that, those initiatives coming together at the same time.

[Please note that next week’s attempt by House Republicans to repeal Obamacare will be the 37th [P4M: ... since the law passed, and the first time since "the new class of Republicans" was elected.]]

It is not going to just be about the health care, good health care in our country, it is going to be about good health in our country. So, we believe that when people begin to sign up I know the Republicans say: “oh, we want to keep, can't discriminate on the basis of a preexisting condition,” and we want to, well, it is a package. They want to spend the money on giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people, but they want to keep the provisions. That is not how it works. So, we are pretty excited about it, and because of, I mean, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on opposing this bill and tattooing it to me, which I accept with great pride, and then using that on subsequent elections. But the fact is that when people sign up for this – and already now we see more positive approval ratings for the bill, I think it is, what, 51 to 43, something like that. I think it should be more, but nonetheless, the majority, and as people sign up for it and see what it means to them.

If you have a child who is born with a defect, a medical defect or a child who is just sick at an early age, forever that child would be discriminated against with a preexisting medical condition. Right now, even for many months already, that has been wiped away. In a few months that will be the case for every person in our country that they will not be discriminated against because of a preexisting medical condition. No longer will being a woman be a preexisting medical condition. If you have children, if you had a caesarian, whatever it happens to be, women have paid more for their policies already, and now that will go away.

Again, we know that it already is the law that if you are up to 26 years of age, children can stay on their parents' policy, and that is a big thing for a young person coming out of school, and seniors have free wellness exams as well as lower costs for their prescription drugs already. So as people see what it means to them, and there are maybe like more than 100 million people, if not themselves – but because of their family, affected by preexisting medical conditions who – just think, it is going to really be liberating: life, a healthier life, liberty to pursue your happiness, whether it is to be a writer, a photographer, to start your own business, to be self-employed, to change jobs, you will no longer be job locked. So it is a pretty remarkable thing, and we are pretty excited about it. And I don't know that this was something they insisted upon. I think it represents the bankruptcy of their agenda. They don't really have anything to talk about. “Pay China first.” “Pay China first.” Give the company interest free loans instead of paying you overtime. This is not an agenda. It affects the middle class, and this is all about the middle class.


Q: The trial in Philadelphia of the doctor, Kermit Gosnell, is there any role at all that Congress should play in making sure that what happened in that clinic isn't happening elsewhere in this country?

Leader Pelosi. I think whatever went on there, and I don't know what you all reported on it, but it was really disgusting. It was really disgusting, and when we talk about reproductive health for women, that is not what we are talking about.

Q: I just wanted to ask you, you were talking about the power of the presidency a little earlier.

Leader Pelosi. Yes.

Q: Given that really the only major piece of legislation that has gone through Congress since the election was the fiscal cliff deal, we have seen guns kind of stall in the Senate, do you think that the President still has any political capital left from the last election that he can use to get some of these initiatives through?

Leader Pelosi. With all due respect for the priorities that you gave that legislation, for us the Violence Against Women Act was a very major piece of legislation that came through. And the reason it won is because of public sentiment. That bill had passed in the Senate in the last Congress in a bipartisan way. Now again in a bipartisan way, overwhelming majority, including all of the Republican women, voted for the bill in the United States Senate, and still the House wouldn't take it up. But by making the public aware of it, the President – as I have said to you before, Lincoln said: “public sentiment is everything.” This issue was made too hot for the Republicans to handle. They had to bring it to the floor. Mind you, over 500 days since, since the authorization ended, the previous authorization, over 500 days later, when all these good things could be springing from it to protect women from violence, and even at that 138 Republicans voted against it. I mean, it is stunning how they can vote against violence against women, but nonetheless.

So, no, I think that because they are using the power of the majority to block jobs, jobs, jobs initiatives that the President puts forth, and they want to be small about how they talk about a vision for growing our economy in a very positive way – that they are missing opportunities. As I say, it always is encouraging to me to see the power of the presidency. I respected it when President Bush was President. I have worked with him on that, and he respected the Speakership and the role of the Congress of the United States, House and Senate, as does this President. So, I am ever hopeful that public sentiment being everything, that we will be able to accomplish a great deal more.

But that doesn't mean we won't keep trying and fighting and calling to the attention of the public why things aren't moving in the way that they should. And one way to do that is go to that table with the budget where the priorities are there. One budget which invests in jobs and economic growth and innovation and the rest, which has fairness and balance in how we reduce the deficit, and another one that is really a blueprint for mediocrity or worse for our country. That would be the Republican budget.

So, you know, this is where we are. This is the arena. This is the challenge that we all face, and we have to meet the challenge, and that means we have to go out there in the campaigns, talk about issues, the politics of personal disruption is one of their main tools. But the fact is at some point you come here to legislate, you come here to get the job done. What do you stand for? How do you wish to cooperate? And, again, what are the opportunities missed for our great middle class, which is the backbone of our democracy? We take an oath to protect and defend that Constitution and everything in it – and that is about our democracy.

So next time, we will talk about the role of money in campaigns and how that is an obstacle to honoring the vows of our founders: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness – a government of the many, not the government of the money.

But right now I have to go back to work. I know you are at work. This is my pleasure. Thank you. Happy Mother's Day.

Q: What are your kids doing?

Leader Pelosi. This is the first Mother's Day in – I don't know how many years – that I will be with my family because I have always been on the trip. But I will be with my grandchildren, the ones that are in New York. I just visited my Texas ones last week, so we had an early Mother's Day there, and San Francisco on Saturday, we had an early Mother's Day there, and now I have my New York grandchildren, Alexandra's children in New York.

Q: Are they good about calling and sending chocolate and all of those things that you admonished all of us to do when you are not there?

Leader Pelosi. Dark, very dark chocolate. Don't send it if it isn't dark. Thank you all.

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