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Health Care Not Warfare, People Before Profits...All Great Mottos for Fueling a Fight for Single-Payer Health Care

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On September 28th, 2007, I went to the National Day of Action & Vigil for Single-Payer Health Care in Chicago. The event was held at 4 pm and went until 6 pm. It was held in Thompson Center Plaza on the corner of Clark and Randolph. I participated in a memorial for those with health care horror stories and joined in solidarity with others who were fighting for health care justice in Chicago and around the country.

The rally was an experience for me like no other. As I walked around in a circle, I thought about the fact that this was the first rally I had ever participated in where we were calling for change with a pro- message and not an anti- message. I had gone to plenty of anti-Bush protests and anti-war rallies in the Chicago area. But now we weren’t being negative. We were proudly declaring that we Americans have the right to health care, single-payer is the answer, and corporations should not be able to profit off of sick people. We weren’t angry people irritating Americans because we were upset but had no answers. This rally involved people who are upset and have answers so people didn’t have to walk away feeling like the world is a place of gloom and doom.

The rally spent the first half of its program catching the attention of those going home from work during rush hour. Being at rallies held in this time slot are the best because you get to see people who do not understand how hurt Americans are come by and stare at you like you are on crack. I watched a corporate executive come down from his office and stare at us trying to read our signs only to find out we weren’t buying what he’s selling, which is health insurance. You don’t always run into corporate executives though and instead usually just run into naive and ignorant people who need flyers to show them the way (after all it’s not really their fault they are like that; corporations bank on their ignorance and fight for them to be disinformed).

The second half was spent with people speaking out on why single-payer health care must be instituted in America.

Donna Smith, who appears in Michael Moore’s film SiCKO and also is part of a group called American Patients for Universal Health Care (APUHC) spoke telling us how happy she is to be at the age where she can get money from Medicare to pay for her health care. She told of her horror stories prior to being able to use Medicare.

Steve Skvara, a retired steelworker and member of the United Steelworkers union spoke about how his family lost their health care after LTV Steel in Indiana declared bankruptcy. He had been working there for 34 years. Steve has forearm crutches to help him walk and appeared to be suffering very much from the lack of single-payer health care in America. However, he led a chant and gave a very motivational speech on how Americans can fight for those who are hurting.

State representative Mary Flowers of Illinois stood up and spoke. She has devoted her career to the needs and rights of children. Today, she spoke about how children have health care in Illinois but not all have access to that health care from the state. She also mentioned how the state has passed measures to grant health care to women with breast and cervical cancer. Despite that, she said women deserve to be treated for problems with their entire body and not in pieces. Her speech was highly motivating and inspirational and the movement for single-payer health care should maintain a solid relationship with her. After all, she is a primary supporter of the HB311 bill for an Illinois State Single-Payer Health Care Program and stated that Illinois would not wait for the government to get its act together.

Others groups or organizations were invited and included: Access Living, American Medical Students Association, Green Party, Health Care for All Illinois, HealthCare Now!, the Kucinich Campaign, International Socialist Organization, Metropolitan Seniors in Action, National Nurses Organizing Committee, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, and the Older Women’s League.

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I spoke at the rally for the Kucinich campaign. I will now conclude this with a paraphrasing of what I said at the rally (this is not word for word what I said but very close):

I am happy to see all you young people out there. I can’t express to you enough how thankful I was that Michael Moore’s documentary SiCKO came to theatres in my little midwest town in Indiana. It brought sheer happiness and joy to me to know that people were thinking about health care in this country and not just watching some movie like Underdog or Transformers. For once, they were taking time to give a serious issue the attention it deserved.

My neighbor is a mother of five children whose husband is off in Washington, D.C. doing work for the government. She used to be a nurse but cannot nurse people anymore because she lost the feeling in her legs. Unable to walk, she can no longer take care of her kids. She is struggling to pay for the operations needed because her insurance company won’t cover her preexisting condition. Now, you and I know that’s a load of crap.

If you watched the Democratic debate on Wednesday, you know that the Democratic debate ignored single-payer health care. Dennis Kucinich slid it in like a soundbite so news organizations if they so choose could reference it but the debate ignored the possibility of such system. Dennis is the only one with the cajones to talk about a single-payer health care system. The other candidates think it will be too hard to take on the insurance interests---they’re just too tough. Now what does that tell you about their character or their leadership abilities? Do you really want someone who will be so weak to lead this country? That they won’t stick up for you should appall you.

I see Green Party people, Socialist people, Democrats, etc. but primarily, we are Americans. And regardless of who we support for the presidency now, Dennis Kucinich is a congressman who is leading the fight for single-payer health care when few leaders on the federal level in America are. We should support John Conyers’ and Dennis Kucinich’s fight for our right to have real health care in this nation. We should go to our offices, our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces, etc. and tell people what single-payer will do for America. We should do everything to praise and support these leaders who are fighting for us. And we should impress the importance of speaking out about this.

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I now add this part that I left out when I spoke.

Dennis Kucinich is the only president who will get us the single-payer health care system we need. If we really want to lower our health care bills and start paying health care, we need to invest in a real presidential candidate and send campaign contributions to the man who promises real change.

Not only does he promise us real change in the realm of health care but he promises to bring home our troops in the first three months in office while all others fail to commit to doing any such thing (some even suggesting 2013 may be the year our troops come home). If we don’t bring our troops home in 2009, we will have to wait even longer for single-payer health care because the money for such a system is being invested in this war.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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