TAMPA — Visiting Tampa on Monday, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi criticized state leaders for making it harder for Floridians to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which starts next week.
It is "drastic" that workers who have insurance information — called "navigators" — cannot provide it unless asked, Pelosi said, referring to the fact that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has barred navigators from county health centers.
"It's not accommodating people," she said. "We'll just have to double down on how we do the outreach."
Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives minority leader, said it appears many of her Republican counterparts are intent on heading toward a government shutdown. Congress has not passed a new budget and House Republicans have voted for a temporary resolution to defund the law, known as Obamacare. Democrats and White House officials say they will not budge.
"The Affordable Care Act is going forward," Pelosi said.
Pelosi joined U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, at the Children's Board of Hillsborough County to discuss women's issues. The female legislators are among a group pushing an agenda called "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds."
They shared often-quoted statistics, including: Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Sixty-two percent of minimum-wage earners are women. Families with female breadwinners are more likely to be below the poverty line. One in four children do not know where their next meal is coming from.
"We need to focus on strategies that will help women and families," Castor said.
Pelosi, who got two standing ovations from a crowd of Democratic politicians, social workers, academics and business owners, said she is focusing on three things: fair pay, paid leave and affordable, quality child care.
When it comes to child care, "it's the missing link," she said. If women were able to find safe places to educate and care for their children, Pelosi said, they would not be left behind at work. If they had that and paid leave, they might not be viewed as less reliable than men and would not be punished for staying home with sick children or aging parents, she said.
She encouraged women in the room to vote more female politicians into office. She said to do so, it is imperative that the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections, be undone.
"We need to decrease the role of money in politics and increase civility," she said. "That will attract more women, minorities and young people."