Pelosi: Don't Measure ACA by How Many Uninsured Get Insurance

By Susan Jones | April 2, 2014 | 8:24 AM EDT

President Barack Obama hugs HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the Obamacare law on March 23, 2010. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

( - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says Democrats passed their health insurance law, not to insure the uninsured, but to give people "quality" health care and "affordable" health care.

"Madam Leader, isn't the real measure of success, not the raw number who signed up, but how many of those who signed up were not insured before?" a reporter asked Pelosi at a news conference on Tuesday.

"No, that's not -- the measure is twofold," Pelosi responded. "The message is how many people have access to health care -- quality, affordable health care and insurance."

According to Pelosi, "The real reason to do the Affordable Care Act...was the cost of health care in our country was unsustainable -- unsustainable to individuals, to small businesses, to corporate America, the competitive issue internationally, and also to state and local and certainly the federal budget.

"So what this legislation has done is it will save a trillion dollars over the lifetime of the bill, and it will -- it will reduce costs for people. And even if they pay a little more in some cases, they're getting much better care."

"So this is about quality and affordability," she repeated -- "and the affordability, that's why it has that name."

"So that is what I think is the measure (of success)."

In urging Congress to tackle health care reform in Sept. 2009, President Obama talked about the "more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage."

"The plan I'm announcing tonight would meet three basic goals," he said. "It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.  It will provide insurance for those who don't.  And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."

When Pelosi congratulated the House for passing the Affordable Care Act on Christmas Eve 2009, she also emphasized that it would insure the uninsured.

"We are proud of the House bill, which provides more affordable coverage for the middle class, covers 36 million currently uninsured Americans, begins health insurance reform in 2013..." she said at the time.

At Tuesday's news conference, Pelosi said Democrats are "not running on health care, and we're not running away from it. We're proud of it, and our members are, by and large."

"Anecdotally, you can always find somebody who may have some concerns. But I want you to know overwhelmingly our members are out there on the offensive on this issue because it's what we did, and we're proud of it, and we're proud of what it means in the lives of the American people. So the politics are very secondary to us."

She said Democrats will continue to talk about the Affordable Care Act. "But the question now is the president's budget, which is about growth and job creation and about the future, and the education of our children, and the investment that is for the future, in science and technology and the rest, versus a budget that takes us backwards."

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