Pelosi Floor Speech on Republicans Abandoning Bipartisan Permanent ‘Doc Fix’

March 14, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today after House Republicans abandoned the bipartisan, bicameral Permanent Medicare “Doc Fix” and instead offered the 51st GOP vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his relentless and persistent leadership in helping America's seniors, today manifested in his support for SGR and his opposition to this ill-designed approach by the Republicans.

“Mr. Speaker, today, House Republicans are proving that their obsession with tearing down the Affordable Care Act is blurring their vision, that it has no boundaries.  For the 51st vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are turning their partisanship against the health and security of our nation's seniors.  The House Republican leadership’s political games are threatening to derail months of bipartisan, bicameral House and Senate progress on a permanent Medicare ‘doc fix’ – threatening our seniors' ability to see their doctors and get the health care they need.

“Earlier this week, the AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Council on Aging, and other key senior advocacy groups wrote to Congressional leadership to make it clear that the Republicans' actions would  ‘inject partisan politics into bipartisan legislation,’ and, they wrote, ‘undermine the months of hard work done by committees, their staffs, and concerned stakeholders.’  The Republicans' approach has been rejected not only by the senior advocacy groups, but by providers, doctors, insurers, and seniors.

“Yet they persist with their reckless partisan antics, even as time quickly runs down to address the Sustainable Growth Rate – the SGR formula – before the end of the month.  Twice this week, Republicans blocked the House from considering a fully paid-for measure that includes the reforms of SGR supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the House and in the Senate and on the committees.  Why have Republicans chosen to proceed in this manner after months of bipartisan progress?  Why didn't Republican leadership work with Democrats to find acceptable offsets?

“We need to get this done, and Republicans know that their baldly partisan effort is a non-starter.  If it passed, it would spike health insurance premiums by 10 to 20 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office.  It would cause 13 million fewer Americans to be insured, says the Congressional Budget Office.

“What does this mean to families?  If you have a child in your family between the ages of 18 and 26, they would no longer be able to be on their parents' policy.  Under the Affordable Care Act, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.  But the Republican actions here today would reverse that, take us back to a time where women paid more for policies simply because they were women.  It would again reject, eliminate, the very important provision of the Affordable Care Act about saying you cannot be denied coverage because you have a pre-existing medical condition.  Tens of millions of families, probably 100 million people, are affected by not being denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.  That's how many people it would affect.  And it would eliminate the requirement of the Affordable Care Act that there be no cap – either annual or lifetime – limit on the health insurance you would receive.

“For these and other reasons, this is a really bad idea.  We may only hope that after this 51st vote, Republicans’ fever will break and they will return to work with Democrats to pass bipartisan, bicameral legislation as a permanent ‘doc fix’ that seniors need before the end of the month.  We are going out today again with work undone – 10 days before we come back, the 24th of March – the SGR expires at the end of march.

“We shouldn't be wasting time on this foolishness and recklessness.  We should be finding a solution.  That's what the American people send us here to do.  The Republicans' fixation with destroying the health security of millions of Americans through their efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act imperil the permanent ‘doc fix,’ and that must stop.

“Congress is wasting time again, as I said, on these endless wasteful votes – time that should be spent renewing emergency unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, rebuilding America by investing in education and building our infrastructure, creating jobs.  The American people deserve better than this.  They deserve a Congress that works to strengthen the middle class, tackle the opportunity gap, create jobs and build an economy that works for everyone.

“I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill, and I hope that when we return after the recess week – yet again, another recess week – Republicans will be ready to get serious and be ready to get back to work for a permanent ‘doc fix’ so that our seniors will be served.  With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”