Pelosi Dismisses Obamacare Defections, Defends Statements

Posted November 17, 2013 at 11:35am

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended her rhetoric leading up to passage of the 2010 health care law Sunday while seeking to minimize the reports of unrest in her caucus and the potential for political fallout in the wake of the law’s rocky rollout.

“I stand by what I said,” the California Democrat told anchor David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” responding to two old interviews — one from 2009 and one from 2010 — in which she said that if individuals liked their existing health insurance policies, they could keep them, and that the Affordable Care Act needs to pass in order for the public to see what’s in the bill.

Pelosi’s appearance on the widely watched Sunday talk show comes at a critical time for Democrats, who are being accused of breaking promises to constituents as millions have received notices that their old insurance plans have been canceled because they don’t comport to the new standards of Obamacare, and the enrollment website has been riddled with glitches that have prevented those with canceled policies from easily shopping for new ones.

It also comes on the heels of a vote in the House on Friday on legislation, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., that would grandfather in those canceled existing health insurance policies. Pelosi and other leading Democrats have called the bill a blatant attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act because it would allow insurers to sell those old policies to new customers, but 39 Democrats defected on Friday to vote “yes.”

Those “yes” votes defied a veto threat from President Barack Obama, who last week apologized for fumbling the rollout of his signature law and offered an administrative fix of his own.

On Sunday, Pelosi was unfazed by the defections and dismissed whether it signaled deep frustration within the rank and file.

“This is political, they respond politically,” Pelosi said of the 39 lawmakers who felt compelled to vote with Republicans on Friday. Many of those members face tough re-election bids in the midterm elections next year.

Pelosi said “the number is practically the same as two, three months ago” on votes to codify the administration’s one-year delay of enforcing the business mandate and to also delay by one year implementation of the individual mandate.

Thirty-five Democrats voted on the business mandate delay codification back in July, while 22 voted for the individual mandate delay.

Asked whether she was at all concerned that the health care law’s implementation woes would cost Democrats seats in 2014 — as they did in 2010 — Pelosi said she was not.

“I don’t think you can tell what will happen next year, but I will tell you this: Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act.”