Pelosi Transcript of Press Event Joining ‘Save My Care’ Bus Tour to Speak Out Against GOP #PayMoreForLess Bill
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Doctor Alice Chen of Doctors for America, and Americans who benefit from the Affordable Care Act to hold a press event to mark the end of the ‘Save My Care’ bus tour and to call on Congressional Republicans not to take health coverage away from millions with their ‘Pay More For Less’ bill. Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks, followed by the question and answer session.
Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:
“Thank you very much, Dr. Chen. And thank you for your service in meeting the needs of God’s creation. ‘When I was sick, you ministered to me.’ It’s biblical in its concept. It’s practical in our lives. And it is brutal what the Republicans want to do to it. It’s unfortunate.
“It’s my honor to join Democratic Leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer, brand new Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire – and she doesn’t think the snow is such a big deal compared to back home – to join them in welcoming people from the bus coming back, Steve Gomez, Buddy Mondlock and Paula Cheveney from Wooster, Ohio, and Dr. Chen as well.
“The demonstration of your support, the stories that you tell are so eloquent. The story that the CBO told yesterday was so clear. Under the Affordable Care Act, the number of people without insurance was cut in half. Under the proposal of the Republicans, the number of people uninsured will not only grow to where it was before the Affordable Care Act, it will be more people uninsured.
“The Hippocratic oath is: do no harm. They’re doing harm with this bill, not only if it passes – which hopefully it will not – but in the fear that it is instilling in people. Stress is the last thing anyone needs when they are sick. And this bill is causing great concern, stress and fear for so many people. So, ‘Save My Care’ – I love the title because it’s about each individual’s possession of their care, their health, their future.
“We know what the CBO said yesterday – stunning to think that they’re taking $600 billion in a reverse Robin Hood stunt. $600 billion from the people who need it most and their health care and giving it to the people who need it least.
“Ironically, many of the people who will be deprived of health care are people who live in rural parts of our country, are older Americans, people who have issues relating to addiction in their families, the list goes on. It’s very, very troubling. It’s very, very cruel. It must be stopped. And this bus – which we were going to greet outside but for the weather – the weather did not hold them back.
“So, I’m not supposed to introduce the next person, but I certainly want to welcome, in terms of the bus trip, but I certainly want to welcome the Democratic Leader of the Senate, who has been such a champion on this issue for a long time and a fighter right now, as we are at this crucial time. Let us welcome Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.”
Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks:
“Let us thank Dr. Chen of course, but Steve and Buddy and Paula for their courage coming, telling their stories – their generosity of spirit to share their stories with us and that the whole ‘Save My Care’ bus trip – ‘Save My Care.’ Remember how personal that is. And this isn’t about care, it’s about life. It’s about family, it’s about the good health of our country, not just health care – the good health of our country, as the Governor said again and again, it’s about jobs. It’s about jobs. So how do they answer for this so-called ‘act of mercy’? Just pull the bill.
“Thank you all very much for coming.”
Q: Republicans are touting one aspect of the CBO analysis which is that their plan would cut the deficit by about 300 billion dollars over 10 years. Is that a benefit in your view?
Leader Pelosi: No. Not if the savings is coming from not having investments in health care. 24 million people are being cut off from health care. They’re saving – what is their figure? – 33 billion dollars a year. So they’re saving 33 billion dollars a year and they’re cutting off 26 million people from health care. It’s just not a good investment.
So while they want to show, that they have some savings, of course you can savings if you cut off millions of people from care. This isn’t about politics, it’s about values. It’s personal, but it’s also about values.
The Speaker has said this bill, which cuts off 24 million people, is an ‘act of mercy’. He called the bill an ‘act of mercy’. How could it be an act of mercy to cut off people from care when it is a matter of life and death? When it is a matter of jobs in your community? When it’s about addressing the opioid and other addiction epidemics that we have in our country? That is not savings to our economy and will really end up being a cost to our economy because people will be sick, jobs will be lost and just what Paula and others had talked about, people won’t be working and bringing money to the economy.
It’s almost in the realm of silly. The Republicans are in such a disarray over the report, that, as Leader Schumer said, over a person they selected to be the head, and actually Dr. Price was instrumental in selecting the person that is the head of CBO. And they’re having a fight among themselves whether the CBO should be discredited or embraced as some of the other Republicans are, claiming this $36 million, or billion, whatever it is, savings at the cost of many lives and good health.
But they’re now in a debate as to whether it’s TrumpCare or RyanCare, they’re just trying to label it on someone else. I know that the Leader would probably want to add to that…
Leader Schumer: I’ll just say this: tell the 64-year old who makes $26,000 a year that he or she has to pay $15,000 more to reduce the deficit? Small comfort.
Leader Pelosi: And the other part of it is – it’s so funny, I didn’t finish my irony earlier when I said that so many people in rural America, older Americans, working class, blue collar, all the rest, will lose benefits. But that wealth will be transferred – and most of them, many of them are in red states. So this is a transfer of wealth from red areas to blue areas, where these wealthy families live.
So, explain that to your constituents, why don’t you? They should just pull the plug on this bill. Pull the bill – that’s our message to the Republicans. This isn’t even a good start.
First of all, they didn’t even know what they were talking about. Some of them are surprised about the CBO report. They didn’t even have a clue.
So, they either don’t know or they don’t care. So, let’s assume that they do care. The more they know, the sooner they’ll pull the plug on this bill. And we can get down to making progress in terms of improving the quality of health and health care in our country.
Q: So the bill is a budget bill, which it only needs the majority of the Congress to pass and it cannot be filibustered. So how do Democrats plan to fight the bill?
Leader Schumer: Well – and this is true in the House and Senate – we Democrats are completely unified. There are more than, I think, 10 Republican Senators – some very conservative, some more mainstream – who say they don’t like the bill. So, the bill is in trouble. It’s in trouble in the House, it’s in even more trouble in the Senate. And we Democrats are unified.
Until you take repeal off the table, we can’t support this because it does so much damage. It’s sort of interesting following up on what the Leader said, no one wants to claim this bill. If it’s so good, why aren’t they rushing to have their names on it? Trump wants to call it RyanCare. Ryan wants to call it TrumpCare. It’s classic Abbott and Costello. If it’s so good why don’t they want their names on it?
Leader Pelosi: Yes ma’am.
Q: Yes and thank you for doing this. I’m wondering if, umm, you know even Democrats are saying that the bill was not perfect, that there are parts that could have been fixed and should have been fixed as the debate was going on. So, at this point, is there a middle ground? Is there a compromise between the two parties and what would you be willing to concede in fixing what’s wrong with Obamacare right now?
Leader Pelosi: Well, let me just say this because, and I know that the Senators would want to address this as well. Here’s the thing: there hasn’t ever been a perfect bill, so that is like the oxymoron of all time. Does anybody know of one? And there hasn’t been any bill of this magnitude that has not been changed: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, voting rights, civil rights, there’s always been improvement as you see implementation. The part of this bill that has, would be improved would be if governors would allow for the expansion of Medicaid.
One of the reasons the CBO report doesn’t show as many people on it in the marketplace is because they had, because employers did not drop the policies of their workers. There was an assumption that employers – if this is there, then we don’t have to give them health insurance, but they continued to do so. So that’s a very positive reason why there aren’t as many more people on it. We had a bill that was a compromise, as you see the implementation you can make improvements always but the fact is also that they also intervened in the implementation of the bill. They intervened by making false representations and mischaracterizations, false representations and misrepresentations about the bill. But we can always subject any legislation we pass to scrutiny in terms of the implementation beyond.
And what’s interesting about it is, I don’t know exactly the number but I will later today, you know, they’re telling their people we had a, what, a 1,200 page bill and they have a 67 page bill? There are probably over 800 pages of the Affordable Care Act that is part of their bill. They didn’t tell their Members that. They didn’t tell their Members that. But what they put in is so bad because it negates so much that is good in the rest of the bill. But they carried a great deal of the Affordable Care Act with them.
Leader Schumer: I’ll just make one quick comment then we’ll take just one more. We have said to our Republican colleagues, take repeal off the table and we’ll sit down and improve the Affordable Care Act. I have a lot of ideas, so do many of my colleagues, House and Senate. But if you repeal it first, you’re going to do huge damage and then you have nothing to replace it with. We told them that last year, and that’s true, because look at what they have. Again, no one wants to put his name on it or her name on it. So we’re certainly willing to make improvements, but you don’t repeal it, that’s not the way to make improvements. If President Trump, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell said we’re taking repeal off the table, the next day we’d have a lot of people willing to sit down and improve ACA, but not repeal it.
Senator Hassan: And I’d just add, look, this is a bill that the CBO report says is going to push insurance premiums up 10 to 20 percent. It is going to leave millions of people uninsured. It makes, what, $880 billion dollars in cuts to the Medicaid program?
So Governors around the country are going to have to decide to cut people off of Medicaid, reduce services, or raise taxes. And Republican and Democratic Governors have implicated Medicaid expansion and Republican and Democratic Governors depend on Medicaid funding from the federal government, as do hospitals. Now imagine you live in small town America and your hospital, which you not only go to for care, is also your largest employer, which is often the case. Rural hospitals are decimated by this bill. So why in heaven’s name would we compromise about it?
We need, right now, to have them stop talking about repealing and doing, and increasing insurance premiums. And then, we can sit down and talk about an appropriate bipartisan solution, just the way we did in New Hampshire.
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