Sunday, October 11, 2009

Healthcare Reform Rally

Yesterday afternoon, this writer and maybe about 15-20 other enlightened ND liberals made their way to the courtyard in front of the Morris PAC for a rally in support of our President's healthcare reform plan. Naturally, the teabaggers could not allow such an event to go on without making sure we knew their feelings, which were well summed up by one man's hilariously misspelled sign "Oboma lies". If I ever meet this Oboma, I'll make sure not to trust him. Another protester simply covered her sign with pictures of guns. Disturbing. But I digress.

After an "interesting" (but passionate) take on our national anthem, the speakers began to take the stage. Congressman Joe Donnelly made a surprise appearance. It was nice to see him finally (at least by all appearances) choosing the right side. He's not necessarily a leader in the House, but every vote is important. Another elected official, Congressman State Representative David Niezgodski, showed up and gave a refreshingly impassioned speech about the importance of real reform. It was great to hear from an elected official that actually listens to the needs of the people, rather than the lobbyists. Other speakers included leaders of the Latin American Union, the AFL-CIO, and a woman with complications from MS who, despite having insurance, is still paying $1,000 a month out of pocket. Not easy to do when only living off social security and disability pension. She gave my favorite line of the afternoon: "Death panels? We already have death panels. They're called insurance companies."

But by far the most moving moment was the man who told us the story of how he lost his wife. She was 24, pregnant, and without insurance, when she came down with a mysterious illness. They went to a doctor, but because of her lack of insurance she was told there was little they could do, given an inhaler, and sent home. The next day her condition visibly worsened, so she was taken to another hospital and put on a respirator. At the cost of $22,000 a day. With no insurance. (At this point, the man was understandably unable to continue, so a woman whose relation to the family I did not catch continued the story for him.) Naturally, no average citizen is unable to sustain that sort of payment without assistance, so she was taken off the respirator. The baby was lost. Then she passed away. Leaving her husband and her two and a half year old child. Her memorial service was yesterday. Her husband came from the service to the healthcare rally. You can't hear a story like that and not choke up. When something like this happens in a country as wealthy and supposedly morally upstanding as America, the system is broken. Healthcare is a basic human right, and if we are unable to pass meaningful reform, then we will be hearing more stories like this every day.


CORRECTION: David Niezgodski is a state representative, not a congressman. Maybe he should be one, though.

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