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Heckled Woman in Wheelchair has a Message: An Exclusive Interview

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Chaz Valenza     Permalink
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"In other countries, people don't spend two months sick in bed," says Marianne. "Their medical care is accessible and affordable enough that they can get the care they need when they need it."

When we talk about health care reform being watered down, Marianne worries. "What scares me most about any compromise that doesn't have a public option is the idea that everyone is forced to buy private health insurance, giving the insurance companies tens of millions of new customers to prey on."

It was an ordeal for Marianne to make her public statement. She waited two hours to participate in the second of three sessions held by Congressman Pallone of New Jersey. While she waited, protesters chanted, "Hands off health care," and "Don't kill Grandma."

"It would have been one thing to speak in a situation where the audience was respectful. But to speak about something painful and personal in front of a crowd of screaming maniacs was quite another."

"I was exhausted from the two hour wait and I considered not speaking, but I was just tired of taking it silently. I shut them out. I forced myself not to cry while I was reading my statement."

Though Congressman Pallone stated clearly at the start of the session that anyone could ask a question or make a statement, Marianne was peppered by people yelling "Ask a question!" during her less than three minutes at the microphone.

"You don't cry in front of bullies, right?" she says with a dose of pride.

Marianne told me that about two-thirds of the crowd was opposed to health care reform. "People were told to state their names and where they were from. A lot of the people were from out-of-state. They were bused to the event."

According to Marianne, there was no discussion of the pending House legislation. "People would take the microphone and ask Congressman Pallone if he read the bill, even though he had stated several times he helped write the bill," she recalled. "Others told the Congressman he was a domestic terrorist."

"If you were there to learn about what was in the health care reform bill," she laments, "you learned nothing."

What would she tell President Obama? "We elected him with a lot of hope. I want to know, where is the audacity? Sometimes compromise is not the answer. Dr. King would never have settled for upgraded seats in the back of the bus."

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)

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