Letters: Nancy Pelosi And The Affordable Care Act

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Audie Cornish and Robert Siegel read emails from listeners about Monday's interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the roll out of the federal healthcare law.


Time now for your letters and a clarification. Yesterday, Robert, you spoke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the roll out of the federal health care law.


I always enjoy talking with Representative Pelosi.

CORNISH: Yeah, and during the conversation, you drew a distinction between the penalty people will pay next year for not having health insurance and what happened when Congress added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. You pointed out that seniors who opt out of that drug benefit do not pay a penalty.

SIEGEL: Right. And several listeners wrote in arguing that there is a penalty. So we checked in with our health reporting team and here's what they say. Seniors who opt out of Medicare Part D pay a penalty only if they sign up more than a year after they become eligible. The penalty comes in the form of a higher premium. But Part D coverage under Medicare is still optional and people who don't sign up don't face any penalty.

And, Audie, I understand from personal experience that I can choose to stay out of Part D or Part B. My point was that, in the case of the Affordable Care Act, people are mandated to have insurance - sign up or pay a penalty.

CORNISH: OK. Well, now to your letters about that interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Chuck Dabney of Chesterfield, Virginia writes: Robert, I expected a better job from you and NPR in this interview. As a computer professional who has been involved in many new product launches over the years, I have never seen a system such as this debut without a plethora of bugs, which get cleaned up over time.

For you to adopt the same advocacy as the other media whiners out there, asking what are they going to do if, if they don't get the bugs cleaned up in time was a real let down.

SIEGEL: Well, Ben Maciag, of Billings, Montana, wasn't a fan of the interview either but for very different reasons. He writes this: Pelosi obviously is a professional at manipulating time during interviews. The fact that she was able to do this with Robert trying to interject made me angry. Robert should have cut her off or ended the interview. The massive health care roll out has failed and, as Robert suggested, these failures do need to be addressed.

CORNISH: And yet another take, this one from Remington Reid of College Park, Maryland. He writes: Despite being a long time Democrat and a supporter of the ACA, I was upset by the way she conducted herself. Madam Pelosi failed to answer Mr. Siegel's questions directly, opting instead to deliver a long, if well articulated, list of talking points.

SIEGEL: Well, thanks to everyone for your feedback. And please keep the letters coming. Just go to NPR.org and click on Contact at the bottom of the page.

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