May 08, 2019


House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) held the House Democratic leadership’s weekly press conference where they outlined the Democratic agenda to stop junk health care plans that swindle hard-working American families and people with pre-existing conditions.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES:  […] As we indicated leading up to the midterm election last year, were we to seize the majority, we'd be focused primarily on lowering health care costs and protecting people with pre-existing conditions. There is no more significant issue facing the Congress than the exploding costs of health care and a continuing Republican assault. In fact, the Republican assault on health care is unacceptable, un-American and unconscionable because it impacts more than 100 million Americans.

There are millions of Americans who have faced down cancer. That's a pre-existing condition. There are millions of Americans struggling with diabetes. That's a pre-existing condition. There are millions of Americans who are fighting heart disease at risk at any moment of having to confront a stroke or a heart attack. That is a pre-existing condition. That's why the stakes are incredibly high. And we stand to protect those Americans. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle and in the administration are trying to take away that protection.

We're so pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and the leadership of Annie Kuster are bringing a bill to the floor this week to protect those very vulnerable Americans. Every single person in this room has a family member with a pre-existing condition. Every single Member under the Capitol dome, Democrats, Republicans, Independents has a family member with a pre-existing condition. Every single person in this country has a family member with a pre-existing condition. The issue is deadly serious.


REP. KUSTER: […] Every week, we've heard Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce Committee talk about, "Oh, of course we want to protect pre-existing conditions." And yet, what is this administration doing? They are in court right now to eliminate the protections in the Affordable Care Act and what they've done at every step is to sabotage the consumer protection guide rails that were in the Affordable Care Act and most notably through the Section 1332 waivers, they are making the decision to allow states to offer junk health plans that don't protect consumers. […] It's unconscionable, it's un-American and we intend to close this loophole. And more importantly, we intend to get our colleagues on the record. Do you care about the quality of life of the American people? And the fact is, they do not care. 


VICE CHAIR CLARK: Once again, we are putting American families front and center, which we will be doing in another bill that we're going to be taking up this week, the disaster relief package that is going to be addressing the hurricanes that struck the South, the wildfires on the West Coast, the flooding in the Midwest. […] We need to help Americans as they face these natural disasters. This supplement will put $17.2 billion towards natural disaster relief. […] These vital funds are going to help Americans rebuild their lives and their communities. And we call on the Republicans to come to their senses. As my colleagues have just said, it is well past time to put the American people and their needs first in the work we are doing here in Congress. 

Over and over again, we've seen Republicans cave to this president's demands and holding up relief for all disasters because of this president's particular contempt of Puerto Rico. We need a full faith effort to bring these communities from despair back to vibrancy. There is no time to waste.

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