WASHINGTON – House Democratic lawmakers vowed to “fight” against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and other House Democrats joined pro-choice advocates on Capitol Hill Jan. 5 to show support for the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood.
On Friday, the House voted 227-198 to begin the Obamacare repeals process by instructing relevant committees to come back with Obamacare repeal legislation by Jan. 27.
Slaughter said bringing the Affordable Care Act to the House floor in 2009 when she was chairwoman of the House Rules Committee was one of the “proudest” moments of her life.
“One of the most egregious things is before we had this insurance that covered us nationally, eight states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia considered domestic violence a pre-existing condition,” she said.
Slaughter noted that survivors of abuse are able to get healthcare because Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Some residents of states such as Arizona have seen their health insurance premiums go up 100 percent in 2017 under Obamacare.
Despite this, Slaughter said the Affordable Care Act has made medical insurance better and cheaper for women.
“Republicans won’t acknowledge it, but there is no doubt the Affordable Care Act has made insurance for women in America better, cheaper, and more available. I am prepared to fight tooth and nail against the push to repeal it, including efforts to defund Planned Parenthood,” she said. “Men in blue suits and red ties have no place telling women what they can and should do when it comes to their own health.”
Pelosi criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for recently saying that defunding Planned Parenthood would be part of a reconciliation bill.
“I just would like to speak individually to women across America: This is about – as Louise said – respect for you, for your judgment about your personal decisions, in terms of your reproductive needs, the size and timing of family and the rest – not to be determined by your insurance company or the Republican ideological, right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives,” she said.
“So this is a very important occasion, where we’re pointing out very specifically about what repeal of ACA would mean to women – and in particular, to address the fact that the Speaker just declared himself, once again, to remove all doubt,” she added.
Pelosi said Democrats will fight to keep Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.
“We are not going back. We are not going back. We will stand our ground. We will fight that decision by the speaker to defund Planned Parenthood, and you know what? The American people are with us. We just have to get out the word,” she said.
DeGette described the GOP leadership’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare as “reckless plans” that would “send insurance markets into chaos.”
“The bottom line is that the Republican leadership makes no promises that they will protect women against abusive and discriminatory practices in their healthcare,” she said. “Instead they are recklessly charging ahead to repeal the ACA without even fulfilling their duties as representatives of the public by offering an alternative plan.”
DeGette and Slaughter are the co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President/CEO Cecile Richards appeared with the lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Hogue said the “hypocrisy” of Republicans in Congress is showing as they deliberate their repeal and replace strategy.
“You say you want to help the American people economically – taking away women’s contraception is going to cost women collectively over a billion dollars per year,” she said. “The party that puts abortion services out of reach of most American women now wants to take away contraception, prenatal care and maternal healthcare.”
Hogue argued that the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is about more than denying medical care for women.
“It is about disempowering women and taking away our agency to build healthy, thriving families, which is good for everyone in this country,” she said.
PJM caught up with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Capitol Hill and asked him what timeframe he would like to see for replacing Obamacare if Republicans decide to repeal it first.
“We’re going to be hard at work dealing with this, and Congress is here and we’re anxious to see how this all unfolds,” said Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “I don’t think anyone has decided that yet, no. It’s coming though.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said the replacement would occur this year but the “phase-in” timeframe for the new plan is not clear right now.
“What date all of this will phase-in on is something we do not know because we are waiting for the Trump administration to be stood up. We are waiting for Tom Price to be confirmed and become the secretary of Health and Human Services,” he said.