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Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats for a press event unveiling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, House Democrats’ For The People legislation to build on the Affordable Care Act to lower health costs and prescription drug prices. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning. Thank you all for being here and on time. My apologies. It is like the middle of the day, there is so much that has been going on already today.
But here we are to talk about something that is so important in the lives of the American people: their health. It is not only about their health, but it’s about their financial health. And when we ran in 2018, we said that we would do three things. For The People, we would lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and preserving the pre-existing condition [protections]. We would have – lower health care costs, bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green way. And, cleaner government, with H.R. 1, which would make the first two possible by reducing the role of big, dark money in politics preventing us from accomplishing other goals in the public interest, rather than the special interest.
On the subject of health care, this was a reiteration of what we had run on in 2006: ‘Six for ‘06.’ One of our six was to give the Secretary the authority to negotiate for lower prices. We knew then, right, Frank? And we know now that was the only way we could take down these prices. Of those ‘Six for 06,’ five of them became law and one did not. And that was giving the Secretary authority to negotiate for lower prices. That is the heart of H.R. 3, which is very much a part of the legislation you will hear very much about today.
I am honored that we are here with Richie Neal by video; Mr. Pallone, whose Committee has so much jurisdiction in terms of health care; Mr. – Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Bobby Scott. These three were there from the start developing that, developing the Affordable Care Act. All of them were very much a part of shaping that. We want to enhance it so the leadership of these three committees are here today.
Let me just say that we didn’t envision that when we were doing H.R. 3 in December, that we would be in the middle of a pandemic, but we are. All the more reason, all the more reason for us to remove all doubt of affordability of health care. This is about the lives, the livelihood of the American people.
And I always like to quote Mr. Clyburn, who always likes to quote Martin Luther King, who said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane because it also often results in physical death.’ Well, that is true, generally speaking. It is also true at the center of this pandemic, where there is a disproportionate number of deaths in communities of color because of inequality of access to health care. So, that is what we are here to talk about.
I could say a lot about each of the people who are here. Lauren underwood, Colin Allred, Andy Kim, Angie Craig; part of our Freshman class who, from day one – and that’s – where did he – from day one, have taken the lead on this and in terms of asserting Congress’s right to fight in court against the President’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, repeal of the pre-existing benefits condition, the repeal of so many opportunities for people from day one and they will talk about their roles in that as they join our distinguished chairmen. In between it all, Mr. Ruiz, a physician, many degrees in public health and medicine, as well as a Member of Congress will speak to us about that juxtaposition of policy and good health in our country.
And with that, I am pleased to start out with how we started this Congressional session a year and a half ago, with Mr. Allred taking the lead. And I yield to the distinguished gentleman from Texas.
Speaker Pelosi. Effective from the start, a health care professional herself, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois. Congresswoman.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Dr. Ruiz, my colleague, Congressman Ruiz. Thank you to all of our Members for their leadership.
As Congressman Ruiz mentioned, and was alluded to, also, by Mr. Scott, tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear the brief from the Administration as to taking down the Affordable Care Act, right in the heart of the time of the pandemic. It was wrong any time, now it is beyond stupid. Beyond stupid.
I thank our colleagues and Freshman Members, each of whom has a piece of legislation from their own entrepreneurial thinking, from their experience, whether as a health care professional; the experience of New Jersey, as a person who had your family experience, but also works professionally; with Congresswoman Craig; and, of course, Mr. Allred who started all of this on the first day. That is tomorrow. Today, we will go to Rules Committee to make this legislation in order.
Tomorrow, they will do their brief to take down the Affordable Care Act. And they will remove all, even semblance of reality when they say – I heard one on TV yesterday say, ‘We are all for the benefit of pre-existing condition not being an obstacle to health insurance and health care. We are all for that.’ Oh really? Then get off the case. Well, tell the President to get off the case.
But nonetheless – that’s tomorrow – on Monday, this important legislation will come to the Floor of the House. We hope it will get bipartisan support. It certainly meets the needs of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Decline To States, whatever they call themselves, across the country, because the issue of health care knows no party. And the issue of the pandemic certainly does not, as well.
We talked of Dr. King. I mentioned earlier, he said ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ It isn’t just the fierce urgency of now, it is the opportunity of now that we have to make this difference, as Mr. Ruiz said, again and again, For The People.
So, I thank all of the colleagues and I thank Chairman Bobby Scott, Chairman Frank Pallone and Chairman Richie Neal for their leadership in bringing this bill to the Floor on Monday.
With that, I thank you all. Wash your hands, wear a mask, take care, keep your distance. Thank you all.
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