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Thousands of supporters of US President Obama’s health care reform gathered in front of Congress on Thursday, June 25 to show their support. Congressional representatives spoke to the crowd, which then proceeded to lobby their respective representatives on the Hill. Several single-payer health care reform advocates attended the rally as well, urging the crowd that Obama’s plan does not go far enough to guarantee everyone is equally insured.

Story Transcript

VOICEOVER: On Thursday, June 25, thousands of President Obama’s health-care reform supporters gathered in front of Congress in Washington, DC. Several congressional representatives spoke about the public-private option at the rally organized by the Health Care for America Now Coalition (HCAN).

REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D-CA): [inaudible] real, affordable health care in the House today in Washington, DC. We want to say something to you. Thank you. Thank you for traveling from every corner of America to be here in the people’s house to get what that the people want [inaudible] full health-care reform. Thank you for that.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I just left—in that building, on the third floor of that building, I just left the health-insurance markup. We just recessed for a couple of hours. Let me assure you, the special interests and the health-insurance industry will not hijack this process.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): We stand here today to say that we want something that not only saves our budget but saves our lives. We are here for something that shouldn’t be considered a privilege, but should be a right in the greatest country on the face of the Earth, and that’s [inaudible] affordable health care for each and every American. And what does that mean to me? That means that every American gets health care. That means that those who have health care get to keep it and they don’t get denied simply because an insurance company wants to deny them from critical health care. It means that we need a public option for real competition in this country [inaudible]

ADELLE ROGERS, PRESIDENT OF RETIRED MEMBERS, CWA LOCAL 1180: Well, we’re here for two reasons. One is the health-care reform, and the other one is the Employee Free Choice Act. One of the things that we really wanted is a public option. It doesn’t mean that you can’t or that you have to come out the insurance that you have. If you like your insurance, you stay with it. We have rallies. We write our elected officials. We lobby on the Hill. And today is an example. If you look around you, today is an example of all of us coming together to rally for health-care reform.

(UNIDENTIFIED): [inaudible] I know you have a lot of other speakers. I want to thank you for being here.

VOICEOVER: Activists backing single-payer reform also attended, saying Obama’s plan does not go far enough.

CLARK NEWHALL, DOCTOR, LAWYER, AND SINGLE-PAYER REFORM ADVOCATE: The rally today was put on by the AFL-CIO and Health Care for America Now. This is an organization that promotes a public option. And they were, today, supporting a “strong public option”, it’s called. We are single-payer advocates. We believe that our health care is a right and that it should be paid for by taxes, and that insurance companies have no business in the health-care equation.

ADRIAN CAMPBELL-MONTGOMERY, CANCER SURVIVOR: There was nobody from HCAN or the AFL-CIO brought in anybody to represent single-payer. Single-payer was completely left out of the table today, because they’re bought out by the insurance companies.

ROGERS: The single-payer is—it’s been out for quite a while, alright? And there are a lot of people that’s for it and against it. And it’s the kind of a thing that sort of throws everybody off the track. We feel that health-care reform is the way to go, because something has to be done now. You know what I’m saying? And at this particular time, we feel that we have a good chance with the health-care reform.

CAMPBELL-MONTGOMERY: They’re fighting for lower premiums. They’re fighting for lower deductibles and, you know, having no pre-existing clauses, pre-existing condition clauses. They’re fighting for some sort of mediocre plan that’s not really going to benefit this country as a whole. What’s going to benefit this country as a whole is having single-payer where we have no deductibles, no premiums, no co-pays, cheap, free, affordable medications that people don’t have to choose between food or their prescriptions. That’s what we need to fight for.

(UNIDENTIFIED): All union sisters and brothers all across America, we’re tired of playing defense on health care. Tens of thousands of us are here today. It’s time for offense. We’re fighting back. We’re fighting for health care for all. And we’re going to win the fight together. Thank you.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think President Obama is making some sort of compromise? Or is he doing the right thing now?

ROGERS: Well, personally, I feel that he’s doing the right thing, okay, because he is a person that—he includes everybody. He listens to every side, not just one side. He listens to every side. I feel he’s the right guy at the right place at the right time, personally.

VOICEOVER: We asked single-payer activists whether they thought President Obama is compromising on health-care reform.

CAMPBELL-MONTGOMERY: I think he is, ’cause he has stated that if he could start from scratch, he would use single-payer. And you have to start from scratch at this point. The system is broken. It’s shattered. We can’t fix it. You have to start from scratch.

NEWHALL: We took our single-payer signs around all over that rally, and everybody took signs, until, of course, the AFL-CIO told them not to take the green signs anymore. We want Obama to stand up. And believe me, if Obama were to stand up and say this is what’s right, this is what’s needed, that would happen. He is the one person that can make it happen.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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