House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who declared Thursday that she will not seek a leadership position in the next Congress, has been lauded as a master of legislative procedure, a unifier of her caucus, a skilled tactician – and as someone who broke the “marble ceiling” for women in the halls of Congress.

“Nancy Pelosi steps down as the most accomplished congressional leader of her era, and probably the most successful House speaker of all time in terms of legislative impact.” – Washington Post, 11/17/22

No small part of Pelosi’s legislative legacy are the many bills that Pelosi, 82, shepherded through Congress to improve older Americans’ health and well-being. In her valedictory speech on the House floor, she wove seniors’ programs into a grand vision of congressional legacy:

“In this room, our colleagues across history have abolished slavery; granted women the right to vote; established Social Security and Medicare; offered a hand to the weak, care to the sick, education to the young and hope to the many.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 11/17/22 

Speaker Pelosi guided the Inflation Reduction Act through the House, which finally allows Medicare to negotiate prices with drug-makers (although the number of drugs subject to negotiation is limited).  The Inflation Reduction Act also capped Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year and limited their insulin costs to $35 a month – long-awaited steps to reduce seniors’ health care costs.  

In 2010, Speaker Pelosi was indispensable to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, which has provided health coverage to tens of millions of Americans who would otherwise be uninsured – including many “near seniors” previously priced out of the market. The ACA also benefitted Medicare patients.  It included wellness check-ups at no cost and eliminated cost-sharing for most preventive services.

As Speaker Pelosi remarked upon the 10th anniversary of the ACA in 2020:

“The Affordable Care Act stands today among the greatest pillars of American health and financial security: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 3/23/20 

Her stepping down as leader of the Democratic party in the House represents a passing of the torch to younger leaders. “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I so deeply respect. And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”

The presumed frontrunners for a new leadership slate include Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for Speaker, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) for Minority Whip, and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) for House Democratic Caucus chair.   NCPSSM President and CEO Max Richtman says that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare “looks forward to a close working relationship on issues vital to America’s seniors with whomever emerges as the next Democratic leadership team in the U.S. House.”