February 26, 2020


WASHINGTON – This week, Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-MA) held the House Democratic leadership’s weekly press conference, where they exposed President Trump’s attack on Medicaid benefits needed by vulnerable seniors, children with disabilities like Xiomara and American families. Xiomara, who joined Chairman Jeffries and Vice Chair Clark at today’s press conference, was born with a number of serious medical conditions and is thriving today as a result of quality health care. Xiomara, her mother, Elena Hung, and families like them have been meeting with lawmakers across the country to share what is possible with access to quality, affordable health care and what is at stake without it.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: At the Caucus meeting earlier, we had a presentation from Bobby Rush on the anti-lynching legislation that will be on the floor later on this evening. The first time an anti-lynching bill was introduced in the Congress, it was in 1918, and there have been over 200 attempts to get an anti-lynching bill signed into law that have been unsuccessful. We plan to be successful. Today, there's a companion bill that the Senate has moved on, and we look forward to moving this legislation at some point soon to the president's desk, and we're confident that he will sign it into law.

Later on this week, there will also be legislation to deal with the rise in the vaping epidemic and the rise of flavored e-cigarettes that are clearly designed to target young people, communities of color in a way that has devastating health consequences. Of course, most importantly, as we will hear from momentarily, we heard from the Little Lobbyists on the importance of the continued fight to protect health care for everyday Americans.

Our fight to protect people with pre-existing conditions, to lower health care costs, to increase access for every single American to high quality, affordable health care is not a paper fight. It is a fight with real life consequences. That is why the presentation from the Little Lobbyist earlier today and their presence here today has been so meaningful for us because this is an administration that has systematically attacked the health care of everyday Americans from day one and has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of children from their health care providers in a meaningful way, as a recent study just confirmed.


VICE CHAIR CLARK: I just want to underscore that what we heard from the president in the State of the Union was that he was going to protect pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are exactly what the Little Lobbyists have and why they are here with their moms fighting for the ACA, fighting for health care for everyone.

You cannot say you are protecting people with pre-existing conditions and be in federal court trying to undo the ACA. Those two things do not work together. In addition, we have seen in the Trump administration budget a $900 billion cut to Medicaid, half a trillion to Medicare and billions from Social Security. And in the face of the coronavirus, $700 million cut to the CDC.

These are the issues that the Democrats have been fighting for. We understand that just as the Chairman said, these are real children, real families with real hopes for the future, for all of them, and that we can use our health care system to make sure they have many, many birthdays in the future. And with that, we will turn it over to the Little Lobbyists.


ELENA HUNG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF LITTLE LOBBYISTS: Good morning, members of the press. My name's Elena. I am here with my daughter, Xiomara, along with who you saw, our friends, Erin and Abby.

On behalf of Little Lobbyists, we are a family-led group of families advocating for our children with complex medical needs and disabilities, and we are here today because we are concerned about the threats to the health care that our children need to survive and thrive. Xiomara, here, spent the first five months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. She was born with serious medical conditions affecting her airway, lungs, heart and kidneys. She uses a tracheostomy to breathe, a ventilator for additional support, a feeding tube for all of her nutrition and a wheelchair to get around and explore the world around her. I'm thrilled to tell you that Xiomara is thriving today. She is happy and kind, funny, clever, a little bit naughty. She goes to school and loves to play and loves to meet new friends and go to the playground and read books and paint, and that's all because of her access to affordable, quality health care.

We're here today because there are millions of families like ours filled with anxiety and fear about our future because of this administration's relentless attacks on our health care and on the disability community. Most recently, the president's budget included a $1 trillion cut to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. There are millions of children like Xiomara across the country, children with pre-existing conditions, and many of our children have extended hospital stays or will require lifelong care, that easily costs over a million dollars and more, sometimes even before they leave the hospital for the first time, just like my daughter.

Before the ACA, 59% of workers with an employer plan had a lifetime limit. If the ACA is gone, lifetime limits would come back, making our kids uninsurable and left without health care, and that is quite literally the difference between life and death. Many of our children with complex medical needs and disabilities also rely on Medicaid, which helps pay for what insurance does not cover, including home nursing and therapies. The administration's proposed overhaul of Medicaid funding would allow for block granting, which limits the funding a state receives to a set amount, regardless of how much is actually needed by Medicaid recipients, resulting in devastating consequences for millions of Americans, including our families.

Our children, the Little Lobbyists children, all children, deserve a chance to be kids and a chance to grow up. So we call on everyone to reject the president's budget, to reject these threats to the ACA, to reject these cuts to Medicaid, and instead we ask you to protect and support our children, children with pre-existing conditions. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Thank you, Elena. Thank you, Xiomara, for your tremendous advocacy for sharing your story, as well as your talents, your energy, your intellectual wisdom on behalf of not just Xiomara, but, of course, on behalf of children like her all across the country. When House Democrats say that we are fighting to lower health care costs, when House Democrats say that we are fighting to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, when House Democrats say we are fighting to protect more than 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, we mean it. And we mean it because of children like Xiomara. And we're not just fighting on a Democratic or Republican partisan issue. This is an American issue. It's a life or death issue. And that's why we're committed to this fight. Health care, health care, health care on behalf of everyday Americans.


And the notion, that Senator McConnell, Senate Republicans, House Republicans, President Trump would somehow come up with a magical plan to protect people with pre-existing condition when they have been determined for 10 years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we still don’t see an alternative plan. They don’t have a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They have a plan to repeal and displace children like Xiomara. That’s their plan. And so, we’re committed to this fight until the very end and we believe that the overwhelming majority of the American people are with us.


Video of the full press conference and Q&A can be viewed here.