AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi paid a trip to the Lone Star State on Thursday to tout progress on health care expansion under the Build Back Better Act.
Pelosi joined Texas U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett in Austin to highlight Democrats’ priorities in the forthcoming act, which in part aims to strengthen health care access for families.
The act includes coverage for those who are denied Medicaid expansion, lower-cost insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace and lower prescription drug prices. Pelosi said President Biden charged Congress that “we must build back better,” inspiring the act’s name.
“That meant ‘build back better’ by building back better with many more people participating in the economic prosperity of our country,” Pelosi said. “I like to think of it as build back better with women, minorities, people of color, many new people into it. And, many of the health care provisions are liberating for people to participate. If we can have family and medical leave paid — paid family and medical leave — if we can have what’s mentioned about home health care for our seniors, people with disabilities and our children — that enables people to be more free to be in the workplace. Child care, child care, child care can be very liberating.”
Pelosi and Doggett specifically highlighted the issues uninsured Texans face and how they hope to address it in the bill.
According to the latest U.S. census data, 18.4% of Texans had no health insurance in 2019, which is twice the national average. Those Texans are in between qualification for marketplace subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and the state’s parameters for Medicaid. By not qualifying for either, they remain uninsured.
“It’s almost an immorality to say, ‘I will not accept money from the federal government for 100% paying for Medicaid. My decision is, I will cut millions of people in my state,’” Pelosi said, in reference to Texas being one of 12 states that do not offer Medicaid expansion.
Macarena Martinez — a spokesperson for the RNC — criticized the visit, saying it comes at a time when lawmakers need to focus their attention on bigger crises the country is facing.
“It’s inappropriate and insensitive for Nancy Pelosi to be promoting the Democrats’ agenda when Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan,” Martinez said. “Pelosi should get back to Washington, D.C., convene Congress and demand answers for Biden’s failed withdrawal in Afghanistan.”