On Aug 31, 2009, approximately 60 citizens rallied on Mercer Island, WA in support of a strong public option for health care reform.
The rally began at Mercerdale Park at 2PM with speeches by Dustin Lambro (from Organizing for America), Dr. John Woo (a physican and teacher at Valley Medical Center in Renton), Dorene Robinson (a nutritionist and small business owner), and Mercer Island city council member Mike Grady. The rally moved to the corner across from Rep. Dave Reichert's office, where it was met with a counter-rally consisting of perhaps 40 conservatives opposed to "Obamacare".
A delegation delivered a petition signed by 3500 constituents to Rep. Dave Reichert's office. The petition supported Obama's bedrock requirements:Reduce costs - Rising health care costs are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals, and families, and they must be brought under control.
Guarantee choice - Every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor - including the choice of a public insurance option
Ensure affordable care for all - All American must have quality and affordable health care.
Breaking news:There are unconfirmed reports that an opponent of Obama's health care reform was questioned by police over an incident in which she allegedly bent the finger of an elderly woman delivering petitions. This story is supported by the following photo:
Conservatives fear that government-run health care will deny care to those in need, will be inefficient, and will lead to rationing. But these are problems we have right now from the insurance companies. See Facts about Health Care. Besides, the proposals being promoted by Obama and the Democratic leadership are not government-run health care by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there is some disagreement among the Left on whether the Obama plan is strong enough. (Some progressives say that Obama and Congress' plan will likely funnel too much money to insurance companies, and its public option will likely be too weak to be effective.) Rally participants largely ignored the detailed questions about which plan is best and instead rallied in favor of the general idea of progressive health care reform.
America's for-profit health care system is by far the costliest per capita in the world, and yet it is far from being the most effective on several criteria: life expectancy, infant mortality (America ranks #37), and the number of uninsured. Conservatives like to believe that government is inefficient, but in fact "In traditional Medicare, just 2 percent of the money goes to overhead. Private sector plans, by contrast, spend an average of 15 percent on overhead" (source). Other sources show even higher overheads for private insurance companies, whose profits and share prices have been soaring. And despite scare-mongering, people overseas report high rates of satisfaction with government-run health care.
Only a strong public option will be able to control costs via reduced paperwork, reduced overheads, negotiated price reductions, and an elimination of profiteering.
See Health Reform: Latest Fact Checks, which dispels some myths about health care reform.
One of the organizers of the rally was Organizing for America, which is an outgrowth of President Obama's organization Obama for America. Some of the participants are worried that the "public option" that the President is likely to deliver may be inadequate. But the participants all seemed to favor a strong public option.
Mercer Island Councilman Mike Grady Dr. John Woo
Dorene Robinson Pro-reform Sign
Dustin LambroAn angry conservative
One thing that conservatives and liberals can agree upon is mentioned in the sign held by the angry conservative above: America's insurance industry lacks competition. Without a strong public option, or at least significant regulation, we're not likely to get it.
The participants make their way to Reichert's officeAcross from Reichert's office
Dustin leads chanting by the reform group Conservatives hold a counter-rally