Pelosi: Obamacare Is ‘A Right’

Terence P. Jeffrey | June 8, 2012 | 12:33pm EDT
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama (AP Photo)

( - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said at her Thursday press briefing that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacre—is not a privilege but “a right.”

At the same time, Pelosi also said Social Security and Medicare are rights.

Key elements of Obamacare include a provision requiring all individuals to purchase government-approved health-care plans, taxpayer-funded transfer payments to finance the purchase of health-care plans by individuals and families who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, and a regulation that requires all health-care plans to cover, without any fees or co-pay, sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients for all women with “reproductive capacity."

A majority of the nation’s state governments challenged Obamacare in federal court, arguing that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to force individuals to purchase health insurance. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on these challenges by the end of this month.

Pelosi made her statement that Obamacare is a “right” in response to a reporter who asked her about a CBS News/New York Times poll that showed 41 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn the law in its entirety while another 27 percent want the Supreme Court to throw out the individual mandate and keep the rest of the law.

“Why do you think that is and what does that say in terms of the chance that the Supreme Court will strike it down?” the reporter asked Pelosi.

“Well, I'm very proud of the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi responded. “I think that the understanding of it has been jeopardized by misrepresentations that have been put out there relentlessly largely by the industries that have--I shouldn't say not benefited because everybody benefits from this health care bill--but who claim to have suffered from the bill.

“Here's the thing: the American Affordable Care Act stands there with Social Security, Medicare, health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege," said Pelosi. “It was opposed vigorously by two forces: one, the health insurance industry, and secondly by anti-government ideologues who do not believe that there should be a government role in clean air, clean water, as well as health care in our country.

“We don't want our proposal to have any more government than it needs,” said Pelosi.

“It's very private sector oriented, it's market-oriented, it's about prevention, it's about innovation, it's about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the American people because it frees them, unlocks them from a job that they may keep only because of the health benefits to pursue their happiness.”

The word “health” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights, however, does expressly protect the free exercise of religion, and the right not to have one’s property taken for public use without just compensation. It also says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

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