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Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Leslie, for bringing us together to observe and, indeed, to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It is completely appropriate that we have a very important person with us:
We could do all the inside maneuvering that we could legislatively under the inspired leadership of President
And that - what saved it even since its passage were the stories, the stories. Himali tells her stories, but 10,000 events were held for people to tell their stories - nothing more eloquent to a Member of
And then, we have the road ahead to look at other considerations in terms of the cost of prescription drugs, etc., as we go forward. But for now, to acknowledge that on that day, eleven years ago, 20 million more people had access to health care. 150,000 - excuse me. One hundred and fifty million families in our country, who already had health care, had improved benefits. No longer could they be held back from getting care and insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition.
You know some of the provisions that relate to children 26 and under. You know that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition. The list goes on and on. The expansion of Medicaid, a very important part of it. And we hope that across the country many more governors will see the light as to what this means.
I'm very proud of
Speaker Pelosi. Yes.
Speaker Pelosi. He really did a job as Attorney General defending the Affordable Care Act against the assault on it. It's hard, but what's interesting is that many more people are accepting it. When it was passed, it was new. People were given misinformation about it. And so, not as many people signed up as we would have liked in the beginning. Well, many did, but we didn't reach some of these governors who didn't expand Medicare and Medicaid.
And then, as people enjoyed it, benefited from it, it grew. But there were still assaults on it. And
I see we've been joined by the distinguished Majority Leader. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Majority Leader Schumer.
Moderator. Okay, so our first question is going to be from
Q: Hi, can you hear me?
Moderator. Yes, we can.
Q: Great. So, question from here in
So, Speaker, what would you say? What would you say to those Georgians who don't qualify for subsidies at all and are about middle class and are paying the full freight of premiums and several thousand dollar deductibles?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I would say that we are expanding. We wanted to do this in the first bill to have a higher plateau, which - a threshold I should say - which people could receive subsidies. That - we had to pay - we paid for the bill, so we stayed within what would fit within that pay-for.
So, now we have the opportunity to expand that. Our goal is to have affordable health care for all Americans, not just by adjusting a subsidy level, but by expanding it across the board. And that is some of what we will do as we go forward.
And part of that is the cost of prescription drugs. There's nothing that increases the cost of health care more than the cost of prescription drugs. And we have H.R.3, the Elijah Cummings [Lower] Drug Costs Now legislation that will help reduce the cost as well.
So, there are all kinds of ways to reduce the cost to a family. Part of it is what they have to pay at - most families in this range, don't have to pay more than
So, it is, it is, it's quite remarkable what is was done in the rescue package. Is it all of it? No, we still want to put many, many more people in the enhanced Medicaid. That isn't the folks that you're talking about there.
But I would just say that this is constantly improving, and all of them benefit from the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. If they have a pre-existing condition, if they have a child who is 26 or under, if they have - if they have they have - they're a woman and the rest.
But understand this: this is coronavirus-centric. We're doing this. We need to make these permanent. And as we make these permanent, we can try to expand them further for the families that you suggested. Because again, as
Moderator. We do. Our next question is going to come from
Q: Thank you. Speaker Pelosi, as we look forward to the next major legislative package, including infrastructure, would you consider including health care changes to that package? And if so, what might you be open to?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, I think that what is in the public domain as to what is being discussed, and I thank you for your question, is this is an infrastructure bill. And we consider human infrastructure a very important part of how we go forward. We include education and housing, in addition to roads and bridges, et cetera. We also have a big broadband provision in there for distance learning and all different other ways that we enhance people's well-being.
Okay, so to your exact question, one of the considerations that -- is -- that Members are discussing is whether we have aspects of H.R. 3, as I mentioned, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now legislation. If we were able to do that, we could save almost a half a trillion dollars, like
So, it's - so, that is one thing that we would consider. Now, would it also pay for other aspects? Community health centers are very much a priority for us and the leadership of
So, those are the considerations that we have to make. Now, we want the bill to be bipartisan. And usually infrastructure has not been partisan and so, to the extent, we have to make decisions as we go along, but we would be missing an opportunity if we did not include lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
Going back to '06, when we ran and won the House back. We had Six for '06, six things we would do in the first 100 hours. One - five of them became law. One of them did not - it passed the House of course, it did not get 60 votes in the
Okay, then, fast forward to the election of 2016. The president kept - the presidential candidate on the other side, he said, 'I'm going to negotiate like crazy' to get those prices down. With
Well, we are going to abandon - we're going to negotiate, sanely, in order to make sure we can reduce the cost of prescription drugs. I have seen grown men cry across the country as we were going around and travel, when we could, about this. When we hear of the story - well,
So, this is really - it's been a priority of ours for a very long time. We couldn't, as I said, get it in '07, that January.
Q: And if I could just ask one follow up. Is - is expanding Medicare eligibility is something that might also be considered in this package?
Speaker Pelosi. Excuse me, I'm sorry.
Q: Is expanding Medicare eligibility something that you might also consider including in the package?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, there are all kinds of initiatives that - in other words, this bill that's coming up, the recovery package is not the last day that we will be discussing all of this. So, our goal is affordable, affordable health care for all Americans. Affordable, quality health care for all Americans. Expanding Medicaid is essential to that. And I understand that even some governors in some red states are thinking more about that, because that's one of their biggest expenses in the state. And we were willing to, to help with that.
But it is, but it is, it is - yeah, obviously, it is something that we want to do. I want a public option. I don't know that we get that in this bill. But this is an ongoing conversation of improvements, of advances that we can make in the - as we celebrate the Affordable Care Act. I wanted public action eleven years - a public option eleven years ago. I didn't succeed then. We had it in the House. We couldn't get it in the
But all - everything is on the table. Let me just put it that way. Everything is on the table. We have to be agnostic about the choices we make. What is it that does the most for the American people, at the least cost to them, making it accessible and affordable? And to do so in a way that makes it - it's not about just health care in America. It's about the good health of the American people. And that goes beyond, shall we say, the doctor's office. It's about housing, and it's about clean air and clean water, and all the other aspects of the well-being of the American people. So, we see the strength of our country, not only in our military might, but in the health and well-being of the American people.
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just join you in thanking Himali. I do say all the time, there's nothing more optimistic a person can do, or courageous, than to start a small business, maybe getting married -
But I thank you for your courage and I thank you for your generosity of spirit, just sharing your story with us. And we hope that the improvements that are there, you will feel the effect of them soon.
I join the Leader in thanking Leslie for his personal commitment to the good health of the American people and to Protect Our Care for bringing so many people together as we go forward, everything on the table, in order to do the best possible job to keep our country in the forefront. Thank you so much, Leslie.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you.