U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was met with cheers Wednesday inside the Omni Interlocken Hotel Broomfield, where she visited to expound upon the Affordable Care Act along with local officials who talked about how Colorado has built on that federal legislation.
Outside, she was met with protesters urging her and Democrats to embrace the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which some, in the wake of the first presidential debate in June, worried is dividing the party.
Pelosi, however, disputed the party is divided when it comes to health care.
“We are united in the idea that we’re going to have health care — quality, affordable, accessible health care — for all Americans,” she said to reporters after a panel discussion.
About a dozen activists were at the entrance to the Omni to show support for the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. A spokesperson for one of the groups said if Pelosi was “serious about more affordable health care for everyone” she should announce her support for the measure.
Inside the hotel, about 200 people listened as Pelosi talked about passage of the Affordable Care Act. U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Lafayette, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District and serves as a member of House Leadership, invited Pelosi, who he has worked with over the past eight months to build consensus in Washington, in part to prioritize affordable health care.
If wasn’t for Pelosi’s leadership in the House, Americans wouldn’t have the Affordable Care Act today, Neguse said.
“She is a a beacon of strong leadership for so many of us in Washington,” he said. “Her dedication to supporting everyday Americans is an inspiration.”
Pelosi talked about the fight to pass the legislation. She thanked Neguse for his leadership as a freshman congressmen and for supporting a vote for the House of Representatives to join a lawsuit to protect the ACA.
“(The) Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and it is the responsibility of the Justice Department to support and protect the law of the land,” Pelosi said of a lawsuit that threatens the ACA.
Kyle Kohli, Colorado communications director for the Republican National Committee, in a statement Wednesday said “Pelosi was right about one thing today, Obamacare has laid the groundwork for 2020 Democrats who want to take away private health insurance from over 3 million Coloradans.”
“While Democrats continue to debate the quickest way to establish government-run health care, President Trump is delivering a booming economy and record job growth,” he said. “The choice for Colorado couldn’t be clearer.”
Pelosi, Neguse and Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway on Tuesday also answered questions on affordable health care policies and talked about Colorado legislation that has built upon the Affordable Care Act.
Conway talked about the reinsurance bill passed last session, which will help the state decrease premiums across Colorado, and by as much as 30% in some parts of the state.
That program is only possible because of the Affordable Care Act, he said, and helps families put $700 to $800 in their pockets every month to be spent on groceries or to save for retirement.
“That’s why we do what we do,” he said. “That’s why we’re in government — to be able to help people.”
Christine Cerrato, a Broomfield mother whose family incurred $1.3 million in medical bills once her son, Ethan, left the neonatal intensive care unit, posed a question about what Colorado representatives are doing to ensure Americans, no matter their income, have access to quality health care and how they will ensure those services are accessible to rural residents who are already struggling to find services and providers.
Ethan, now a toddler, was born prematurely with a tumor weighing 2½ pounds and ended up in the neonatal intensive care unit for three months. He has since had multiple surgeries, and battles kidney issues along with other conditions.
After he was born, he was rushed from the hospital where Cerrato gave birth to one about 20 miles away in downtown Denver. Cerrato said the family quickly learned the hospital was out of their insurance company’s provider network.
As a middle class family, that bill was “not something we could pay back, ever,” she said. Instead they connected with local volunteers who spent time helping them navigate the health care system, finding waivers and getting their son qualified for Medicaid.
“We had been told we made too much money,” she said.
She also learned about a Colorado program that allowed her to, instead of returning to work, stay home as a full-time employee of a home health agency to care for her son and tend to his complicated needs.
Pelosi thanked Ethan for being a “poster child” in terms of no lifetime limits on preexisting conditions.