Nancy Pelosi: Healthcare Reform Leader, Lightning Rod
"There were several months when naysayers said we should give up and claim that health reform was dead," Pelosi said. "But I knew this fight was important; I never stopped believing we could get this done and I recognized that it would require every ounce of effort, commitment, hard work, and cooperation to reach our goal. Working together, we proved the cynics wrong."
In the months since the enactment of the legislation, Pelosi says she is pleased how it has moved forward. "Health reform has evolved in a way that benefits all Americans," she says. "Through the legislation we created a Patients' Bill of Rights—correcting some of the worst anti-consumer practices of the insurance industry," Pelosi says. She ticks off the impact: Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, no longer drop someone's coverage when they get sick; young adults can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26; senior citizens are getting checks to help close the Medicare prescription "doughnut hole."
As Pelosi moves forward, once again a target of conservatives, and with the Democrats' continued hold of the House uncertain, healthcare reform has become a major refrain for whatever song she is singing about her accomplishments. The impact of its legislative journey is certain to spill over on any political races for some time to come.
As a representative of one of the most liberal districts in the country for more than 20 years, Pelosi is the first woman to be Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency. The daughter of a Baltimore mayor and congressman, Pelosi, however, often describes herself in terms of being a mother of five and grandmother of six. In talking about being a grandmother, she once told 60 Minutes: "It's great. It's fabulous. It was my goal in life and now I've achieved it."
Politically, through February and March while Washington was besieged by blizzards, the Californian had her finest hours. She moved healthcare reform legislation through twists and turns, trying to get votes, displeasing the Republicans. As the volume of criticism against her increased, she intensified her focus.
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