In the middle of Tuesday's House debate over Republicans' continued piecemeal dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, Nancy Pelosi came to the floor to remind everyone that today is the anniversary of its passage. Not only did she remind everyone of it, but she enumerated the ways it's already taking hold in people's lives.
I thank the gentleman for his leadership on helping us honor what our founders put forth in our founding documents which is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that is exactly what the Affordable Care Act helps to guarantee. A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness free of the constraints that lack of health care might provide to a family.
If you want to be a photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so.
If you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act you have that ability, that liberty to pursue your happiness.
Ah, liberty. That often bandied-about word that the right wing likes to think is its exclusive battle cry. In the minds of those who want to kill the Affordable Care Act, liberty is something that only belongs to rich white men. Women, the poor, and those of us in the middle class saddled with chronic medical conditions? No. No liberty for us. In their terms, we're expected to accept a definition of liberty that includes forced transvaginal ultrasounds, shaming, and a life of penury or worse in service of a chronic health condition. Early deaths? Liberty. This is right-wing liberty, writ large.
Wednesday, the House voted to repeal the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that apply to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), Medicare's last, best hope for remaining a single payer, universal health care plan for seniors. The IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act to rein in costs in a thoughtful way, because Congress continually demonstrates their inability to do it. It is a depoliticized way to handle cost management, and it's only triggered if Medicare spending exceeds a percentage of GDP. To people who bother to read, IPAB is a way to avoid rationing, not a mechanism to ration. But of course, too many conservatives trust Fox News for their news, so they think it's the mechanism to ration health care and send Granny to an early grave. Sigh.
It was refreshing to see Pelosi enumerate all the ways — large and small — the Affordable Care Act will be, and has been, transformative. From closing the "donut hole" for seniors to eliminating pre-existing conditions for children immediately, to allowing adult children to remain on their parents' plan until they're 26, it has changed lives. I see them every day. Annual limits for health care are a thing of the past, and free preventive care is the way of the future.
In Pelosi's words at the end of her speech:
Again, Mr. — Madame — Speaker. This week we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act for what it embodies.
It's about innovation. It's about not just health care in America but a healthier America. It's about prevention, innovation, it's about customized personalized care, it's about electronic medical records. It's about lowering costs, expanding access, and improving quality.
So much misleading information is put out there about it, that it's important to keep repeating the difference, the transformative nature of the legislation.
In fact, it has already begun to transform the lives of America's children by saying no longer will they be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing medical condition. And soon we can fully say that no longer being a woman is a pre-existing medical condition where women are discriminated against to the tune of a billion dollars a year in cost of premiums, not to mention exclusion from obtaining coverage.
And so I proudly celebrate the two-year anniversary and I emphatically oppose the legislation on the floor. If you want to dismantle Medicare, vote aye. If you want to support Medicare, if you think health care is a right for the many, not just a privilege for the few, vote no.
Of course, this took place before the vote, which succeeded in repealing the IPAB. Hopefully the Senate will be a backstop, but President Obama has already said he will veto any legislation repealing this provision.
In the meantime, celebrate the ACA's second anniversary and look ahead to the time where it's not just kids, but all of us who get to enjoy the benefits, unless the Supreme Court takes care of that. Speaking of the Supreme Court, I'll be live-blogging the arguments on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from the live audio feed the court has agreed to provide. Stop by any time and join in the fun!
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