|Members of dozens of unions rallied in Washington, D.C., today in a show of support for President Obama as he held a health care forum.|
With nearly 700 Alliance for Retired Americans members filling the Civic Center in Delray Beach, Fla., and another 700 Alliance and union members outside—far outnumbering protesters—health care reform backers sent “a powerful signal” this afternoon, said Alliance President Barbara Easterling.
“We will not be stopped in our fight to reform health care.”
Meanwhile, this afternoon in Washington, D.C., about 1,000 people, including members of more than a dozen unions, lined streets near Capitol Hill to show support for health care reform legislation. They answered a call sent yesterday to counter what had been expected to be a large turnout of reform opponents who were going to protest during President Obama’s health care reform teleconference and webcast. Only a handful of reform opponents showed up.
In Florida, U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Robert Wexler joined Easterling at one of the biggest health care town hall meetings this congressional recess. Easterling urged the crowd to “make it your mission to help separate fact from fiction in the health care debate.” She told them:
Stay together in the face of the big insurance companies trying to scare seniors, misleading them with lies and predictions of doom. These scare tactics are false, but not enough people know this.
Lobbyists and places like Fox News are spending millions of dollars—and spreading millions of lies—to preserve the status quo. Why? Because they are the winners in our current system, a broken system that puts profits ahead of people, the special interests ahead of the public interest.
Health care reform legislation will make it easier for seniors to see a doctor, get a prescription filled, close the Medicare prescription drug “donut” hole and afford long-term care, she told the crowd.
Easterling also said a public health insurance plan option is a crucial element to reform because it
would hold insurance companies accountable and keep their premiums and business practices in check.
Louisa McQueeney, general manager of a small citrus shop, was outside the civic center and told the Palm Beach Post her 10-person fruit business pays about $1,200 every month per employee for health care coverage, in addition to the $3,000 that’s siphoned from their paychecks into health savings accounts.
The current health care system is killing our business. The cost is prohibitive. We can’t do it anymore. What we need is a public option to get the insurance companies to start paying attention. The price goes up, up, up, up.
Hastings said that for the 17 years he has served in Congress, health care reform has generated a lot of talk but no action.
Enough already. It’s time for action. I find it unconscionable that people in this country go bankrupt from the cost of health care.
Sylvia Gruber, 83, a retired public school teacher from Long Island, was among those inside the packed Civic Center and told the Orlando Sun Sentinel:
I think this country is big enough and wealthy enough to provide health care for everyone—and I hope righteous enough.
Wrapping up her remarks to the overflow crowd, Easterling said:
Think about your children and grandchildren and your nieces and nephews. How are they doing in these difficult times? What would happen if they lost their job? At a time of sky-high premiums and unfair rules against pre-existing conditions, would they be able to get health insurance? Would they be able to pay their doctor’s bill or get a prescription filled?
Retirees have a lot to gain from health care reform. We will give future generations a retirement that they can count on. This can be our lasting legacy.