Dying for Healthcare: A National Day of Protest Against Insurance Companies and Rejections of Patients
Philadelphia was one of the 18 cities around the country hosting demonstrations as a part of today's National Day of Protest Against Health Insurance Corporations protesting at the headquarters of each of the major health insurance corporations. Organized by Healthcare-NOW!," target="_blank">click here the speakers and demonstrators congregated in front of the national headquarters of Cigna in Center City with a crowd of around 200 people.
The participants are looking to apply significant political pressure on political leaders to create a single payer health care system that will cover every American from the cradle to the grave, like the Representative John Conyers' United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676). This bill would serve to expand Medicare system, which is enjoys a high rate of consumer satisfaction, to everyone and convert the for-profit health insurance industry into a non-profit one over a period of 15 years. If you haven't read the text of the bill - I know that's what everyone's doing on Friday nights - you ought to take a look at it. It is a remarkable piece of potential legislation that would put a serious dent in this vast, immoral disaster visited upon over a quarter of this nation.
Former Philadelphia Health Commissioner and current Vice President of the American Public Health Association, Walter Tsou said that "the health care system costs too much, covers too few, serves too many people...We need single payer health care for this country."
People at the front lines see the impact on care, like Patricia Aiken. Aiken is a registered nurse at Temple University Hospital's Emergency Room which see the a lion's share of the city's uninsured in North Philadelphia.
"I think this country can afford and needs to have universal health care," stated Aiken. "We need single payer, extended Medicare for all and we need to get rid of insurance companies "
Most people recognize that the corporations that sell health insurance, pharmaceuticals, and the for-profit medical establishment represent a massive, well financed interest block capable of bending Harrisburg and Washington to its will with campaign contributions. Tom Knocke, an organizer with Healthcare-NOW!, saw today's demonstration as a necessary and thrilling step of building momentum for single payer health coverage.
"It's grassroot's stuff with unions and community people and organizations of uninsured people and patients all over the country that's the only way that we're going to win this. We can win it. National health insurance coverage or every American from birth to death and it's worth fighting for," stated Knocke after the rally.
I know that I couldn't agree more. Personally, I have come into contact with droves of people who the for-profit healthcare system failed. I could not help thinking that the Article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights spoke of the right to health which is inherently more than the right to healthcare. It is the right to live in an environment that prevention is the goal with treatment being secondary. Ben Franklin's prescient addage of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is more relevant today with corporate profits hocking that pound of cure at every bus stand and each commercial break.
I spoke with Galen Tyler, Executive Director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union at the demonstration. "We are here because we think that it's sick when society allows companies to make big profits off of those who don't have insurance and those who are sick...We need our economic human rights!"
It made me think of the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) braclets that people wore about 5 years ago. What would the leper's family had to pay to cure him? What about Lazurus?
Our country has taken the wrong path on this issue. We each need to take a moment to learn a little more about the potential solutions to the healthcare crisis and take actions.
As HealthCare4ALLPA's Chuck Pennachchio concluded, "the single payment solution is the only way that were going to restore economic, moral and democratic sanity to our health care system."
Photo Credit: Leigh Owens Photography