"We just couldn't be prouder" of the legislation, Pelosi told a news conference where she said the law already has resulted in "better coverage, more affordable, better quality" insurance for nearly 12 million people.
The first test of their strategy ended inauspiciously for Democrats in
Pelosi has said the defeat was due more to the make-up of a district long in Republican hands. Other Democrats speaking privately concede the health care law played a role. Opinion surveys indicate the public generally wants to improve the law rather than repeal it, and party strategists are urging lawmakers to take credit for its benefits at the same time they emphasize their desire to change portions of it.
Some Republicans seemed delighted that Pelosi had chosen to trumpet an issue the
That's not how Pelosi described the law, which passed while she was serving as speaker of the House during Obama's first two years in office.
Asked whether the law figured to be a political winner or a loser in a competitive race for the House, Pelosi said, "I believe that it's a winner." She insisted it be referred to as the Affordable Care Act, its formal title, rather than as Obamacare, a label Republicans mockingly came up with but that the president has since embraced.
More generally, she said, "This isn't about politics. This is about the health of America. ... Just because people say, I don't want to repeal it, but I do want to fix it, doesn't mean they're walking away from it."
House Democrats must gain 17 seats to win a majority next fall. It looms as a very steep challenge in view of the traditional midterm headwinds facing a party in control of the
Pelosi accused House Republicans of wasting time by arranging 51 votes to repeal or neutralize the law, and conceded that it is challenging for Democrats to counter attacks financed by "unlimited, undisclosed special interest money."
House Republicans currently are holding private discussions about whether to offer any sort of alternative health care law — more than three years after running on a promise to "repeal and replace" the law Obama signed.
Pelosi said they will have difficulty producing a plan that lowers costs and assures coverage of pre-existing conditions unless they require everyone to purchase insurance — the very provision opponents most often cite as objectionable in the current law.
In her comments, Pelosi seemed intent on providing a model for other Democrats to follow in making the case for the law.
She said it assures coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, permits children to stay on their parents' policy until age 26, slowed premium increases and expanded drug coverage under
She said that more than 10 million and "maybe closer to 12 million people" already have better and more accessible coverage, counting young adult-aged children on their parents' plans; several million who have signed up through HealthCare.gov and separate state-run websites; and lower-income Americans covered through an expansion of
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