Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Lloyd Doggett talk new Dell Seton Medical Center, Affordable Care Act’s impact on Austin

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, were in Austin this morning to tour a new teaching hospital and gather insight on the Affordable Care Act and its effect on Austin from local community leaders.

The politicians toured Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, a teaching hospital set to open May 21 in downtown Austin. The hospital will feature 211 beds and 13 operating rooms. After the tour, Pelosi and Doggett sat down with community leaders in the healthcare, music and technology fields to discuss Dell Seton and the Affordable Care Act.

During her tour, Pelosi said she saw more emphasis placed on patient health and the value of treatment instead of seeking a high volume of procedures.

“[Dell Seton] is a model to the country, because you have coming together, a public spirit, where they have solutions to healthcare [and are]giving people access to affordable healthcare, even more so under the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said.

She sees the Affordable Care Act as a pillar of health and economic security for Americans, along with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, she said.

The ACA as we know it today wouldn’t exist without Pelosi’s work, Doggett said.

“Through the efforts of Leader Pelosi, [we were able to]bring together a very diverse Democratic caucus to stand up and take a risk, to do what generations had talked about doing, and that is trying to provide affordable healthcare,” Doggett said.

After 60-plus efforts by Republicans to repeal the act, Doggett said Pelosi will continue to play an important role in any new national healthcare legislation.

“Once again, we look to her leadership to bring people with very different ideas about healthcare [together],” Doggett said. “[There are] many flaws in the Affordable Care Act that need correcting. The focus has to be on strengthening the act, on correcting deficiencies, not on trying to tear it down.”

During the panel, attendees shared stories of how the ACA improved the lives of Austinites, including undocumented residents who no longer had to drive four hours across the Mexican border to seek affordable treatment as well as musicians who were able to be covered for mental health treatment for the first time. A tech industry professional said entrepreneurs in Austin have an easier time creating startups because they don’t have to work a second job to keep their health insurance.

“We want people to reach their fulfillment, to honor the values of our founder’s: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Pelosi said. “A happier life, to have the liberty to pursue your happiness, not be chained by a policy to a job.”

Pelosi made it clear she is working for access to quality affordable care, not merely the access to go to an emergency room. That should be for emergencies, not a person’s standard of care. She quoted Martin Luther King Jr. to get her point across.

“Dr. King said of all of the forms of inequality, inequality of healthcare is the most inhumane and shocking, because people could die,” Pelosi said.

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