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Pelosi Comes To Town

by Michelle Turner | Mar 8, 2010 8:11 am

(7) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Health, Politics

Michelle Turner Photo Those black Chevy Suburbans attracting curiosity on Chapel Street were transporting a visitor to town on two pieces of business: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi came to raise money for Democrats, and to raise consciousness about a last-ditch health care reform bill she’s trying to pass back in D.C.

The SUVs were parked outside Basta restaurant, where Pelosi was guest of honor at a sold-out private fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Twenty-seven people paid to sup with the speaker and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, and Chris Murphy. Suggested ticket donation was $5,000. (DeLauro’s staffers, who helped organize the event, didn’t yet have a figure Sunday for the total raised.)

Before the lunch, Pelosi and the three U.S. representatives joined local politicos for a public event at the Graduate Club on Elm Street to make the pitch that the health reform bill pending at the Capitol is a boon for women. They spoke of how the bill would make progress in ending gender discrimination in health insurance, in part by preventing insurance companies from denying people coverage for “preexisting conditions.”

They brought along a woman named Melissa Marottoli to prove their point. (Marottoli is pictured on the left alongside Carolyn Mazure, director of women’s health research at Yale; Pelosi; and, behind the digital cam, DeLauro.)

Marottoli, a 28-year-old lung cancer survivor who never smoked, stood up and told the crowd about her insurance struggle. She said she is locked into her job because of her condition. If she were to leave, she said, “I would lose my current insurance [because] I’m considered having a pre-existing condition..My bills alone, without this coverage, cost $1 million dollars each year. I have to worry constantly about fighting cancer and worry constantly about paying the bills. And this is why this [health reform] is so important to me.”

Speaker Pelosi then told the crowd health care reform would stop people from being “job-locked,” and allow them to do the work they want to do.

According to Pelosi’s office, women are charged up to 48 percent more than men for insurance premiums. Some insurance companies treat a C-section (Cesarean delivery) as a pre-existing condition, or charge higher premiums or deductibles for them. Pelosi’s office cited the story of a woman denied coverage for prenatal care and delivery of her child, because she had conceived after she started her job; the insurance company considered her healthy pregnancy a preexisting condition. In Washington, D.C. and eight states,domestic violence victims can be denied health, life or disability insurance. All of these practices would be against the law under the current health care legislation.

At Saturday’s public event, Pelosi was asked her assessement of the potential for bipartisan lawmaking after a year of trying to pass health reform in D.C.

“We all have an obligation to find common ground, to reach out across the aisle,” she began. “...We have an obligation to find our common ground. If we don’t find it, then we must stand our ground. Just because we don’t have bipartisanship, doesn’t mean we can’t pass a bill.

“There are over 100 Republican amendments in the bill, and there is the insurance exchange, which is a Republican idea,” Pelosi said. “So what you’re heraing from the other side [about faults with the final bill] is an excuse for not wanting to show themselves as handmaidens of the insurance companies.”

After the panel discussion,the panel took photos, and was whisked away in the black Chevy Suburbans to Basta. Federal agents were stationed outside the restaurant, and drew their usual amount of attention.

Student Sam Haire had a wide-eyed stare for the agents.

“Who’s in there?” he asked as he passed the restaurant, slowly craining his neck to look into the window.

“Nancy Pelosi???” he said. “Wow!!!”

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posted by: ned on March 8, 2010  9:13am

The best government money can buy.

posted by: City Hall II on March 8, 2010  11:01am

How come no one from JD’s administration in attendance? Getting cold feet on Obama?  Was the Education boost a failure?  Was the “job” in the O administration a non-starter? Wondering?

posted by: City Hall Watch on March 8, 2010  11:28am

Did they really need to tie up a lane of traffic at one of the worst bottlenecks in the city, not to mention driving around in the gas guzzling SUVs. Irony on many levels…

posted by: Walt on March 8, 2010  12:03pm

Too late.  I would have liked the opportunity to politely hiss or maybe boo.

posted by: Greg on March 8, 2010  12:13pm

Actually, the play at the Shubert (Annie) caused far more traffic than Pelosi did.

posted by: steve on March 8, 2010  4:59pm

Love the visual of that last picture.

posted by: blue dog dem on March 8, 2010  7:43pm

It’s terrible that domestic violence victims in DC can be turned down for life, disability or health insurance.  “these practices would be against the law under the current health care legislation.”  Why aren’t they against the law now since Congress controls DC, and make all legislative decisions for the District.  Just ask the families who lost the school vouchers because Congress took them away.

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