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Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference on Health Care Reform for the Middle Class

WASHINGTON, July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders held a press conference in the Capitol this afternoon with four middle-class Americans, who represent the struggles that so many have with our current health care system. Democrats will soon introduce a bill that will provide quality, affordable health care for the middle class. Below is a fact sheet on all four participants in the conference: Phil Feaster, Diane Buch, Joe Greear, and Tammy Rostov.

Below are the Speaker's opening remarks and closing statement. A transcript of the entire press conference will be sent later.

Speaker Pelosi Opening Remarks:

"Good afternoon. It is with great excitement that I welcome you here today as we continue our momentum toward reforming health care to lower costs for all Americans, to improve quality, to bring stability to people's homes.

"Today, we are highlighting why we are reforming health care this year and why it is important to do so, and do so as soon as possible. If we do nothing, the cost of health care for the average family of four will increase $1,800 a year. This is a hardship for that family. It's a hardship for businesses. It's a hardship for our economy. It's a hardship for our budget. And so we cannot afford to do nothing.

"Over the coming weeks, Congress will continue working with President Obama to make health care reform work for middle-class families in America. We will be on schedule to do as we have planned to vote for this legislation before we leave for the August recess.

"But in the meantime, we have a path to success: lowering costs for consumers and businesses; giving greater choice to Americans, including keeping your current doctor or plan if you like them; improving the quality of your care; putting doctors, not insurance companies, back in charge.

"You'll hear some of our opponents of reforming health care saying that -- that this is putting government between you and your doctor. That's what they say. It is just the opposite. What we are doing is removing the health insurance company from between patients and their doctors.

"In doing so, we will provide stability and peace of mind that people cannot be denied for preexisting conditions, and that people have portability if they go from one job to the next, and that they will not lose their health care if they lose their jobs. And this is why this is so important to middle class families in America.

"Today, just before we introduce the legislation, we're so pleased to be joined by three Americans -- well, four -- Joe Greear and Diane Buch who are with us. They are going to talk about pre-existing conditions. Phil Feaster, whom Mr. Hoyer will introduce, his constituent, will talk about seniors and the doughnut hole; and Tammy Rostov, a small business owner.

"I would now like to turn this meeting over to the distinguished Democratic leader of the House, Mr. Hoyer."

Speaker Pelosi Closing Statement:

"Thank you Phil, Diane, and Tammy for your very eloquent presentations. Your presentations are more persuasive than anything we can say in terms of the provisions of the legislation, by speaking directly to why we need this health care reform and how it would affect you, very directly.

"It's very exciting for us. This is why many of us have come to Congress and have been involved in public service to begin with. I'm very proud to be standing here with Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, and John Larson and representing Democratic Leadership in the House to say that we hear what you are saying and we promise you that working with the President, we will have health care reform, and we will have it this year.

"With that in mind, I will be pleased to take any questions you have. Any questions for our guests or the leadership?"

Health Care Reform for the Middle Class Press Conference Participants

Phil Feaster -- Phil is a senior living in Fort Washington, Maryland. He is retired from the trucking industry and needs medications for high blood pressure and diabetes. Every year he falls into the doughnut hole in June and does not come out. Therefore, he pays $85 per month in premiums for half of the year and receives no benefits while paying 100% for his prescriptions. His monthly cost comes out to roughly $700.

Phil would benefit from this draft health care legislation by improving prescription medication coverage and completely eliminating the doughnut hole, as well as improving access to doctors and overall quality of care.

Diane Buch and Joe Greear -- Diane Buch (pronounced "Buck") and Joe Greear, a married couple in their fifties from Georgia, were denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and are currently unemployed. Diane has epilepsy controlled by medication, but because of the illness, she is unable to drive, a requirement for most jobs in her field as a special education teacher. This, along with the poor economy, has made finding work difficult. Joe lost his job in January 2008. His company allowed them to continue their coverage until April 2008. They did not qualify for COBRA due to the size of the company.

Diane checked on a conversion policy for her and Joe, but found the cost prohibitive at $2,600 per month. She also checked on individual policies but was denied by four companies. Her husband was able to purchase an individual policy at $440 per month. Premium increases forced him to raise the deductible, and he now pays $414 per month with a $5,000 deductible.

Diane and Joe would benefit from this draft health care legislation by elimination of any pre-existing condition prohibitions on buying health insurance. They would also be able to enter the health insurance exchange to purchase comprehensive insurance coverage under a family (or individual) plan, and be eligible for premium subsidies that are likely to cover most of the premium as well as have reduced cost-sharing and out-of-pocket caps on their expenditures.

Tammy Rostov -- Tammy is a small business owner from Richmond, Virginia. Her small business, Rostov's Coffee, employs nine employees, full-time and part-time. Currently, three full-time employees are covered under a $2,000-deductible plan. Rostov pays $10,680 a year for coverage, which is more than 8.3% of the payroll.

Tammy would benefit from this draft health care legislation by being able to purchase coverage through the Exchange for all her employees in year one, gaining access to more affordable options, better cost control, and greater transparency in coverage than she has now. If she chooses not to provide coverage -- she would pay a fixed, affordable assessment and her employees could participate at lower group rates in the Exchange. If she chooses to provide coverage for her workers, she would qualify for a tax credit for half of the policy cost. Two of three covered employees earn less than $29,326 and would qualify for individual affordability credits, and with this bill providing lower costs, greater predictability will help to make her business more competitive.

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House
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