4:24 PM Eastern - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Liveblogging: Health Care Events on Capitol Hill

7:09pm: And the closing line from Rev. Forbes brings the crowd to their feet:

"When we pool our resources and pool together - black and white, rich and poor, Baptists and Catholics and Muslims and Buddhists. That's when the spirit gathers and we can make a difference."

Wow. What a program. People are energized going into the next event. I have chills.

7:02pm: Reverend James A. Forbes wraps up the faith event before we move onto the Health Equality Project event. He lost his health care when he went into retirement: "my problem is I can't pray for myself without praying for 46 million other people."

He says the scope of the problem requires immediate action from all of us: "since I am telling you what you already agree with, it is my responsibility to get an op ed, an article, a Twitter... To tell other people what we already know."

6:41pm: Representative Tom Perriello from Virginia is on stage now... with a tough act to follow! He's been championing the issue of health care reform since he took office - especially improving health care for veterans.


6:32pm: Dr. Goetcheus is still speaking - and much of the crowd on their feet now! Loved this quote from Frederick Douglas: "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Lots of "amens" for that one!

6:24pm: Dr. A. Janelle Goetcheus, MD is up next, she's a doctor in the DC area. She's doing a great job talking about how the health care crisis looks from her perspective. She says sometimes she feels more like a beggar than a doctor - "begging for treatments for my patients."

She says there is no excuse for anyone to stand by while this crisis worsens: "If you see a child and the child is running into the street, you don't just stand there and not do anything. It's the same thing with health care. We can't just stand there!"

6:18pm: Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK is talking about how we may all have different reasons, but we still want the same thing when it comes to health care reform: "It's rare when a moral stance, a business necessity, and a political opportunity all happen at the same time. And that time is now."

6:08pm: Rep. James Clyburn from South Carolina is speaking: "health care is a right for each and every one of us."


5:52pm: Powerful story from Susan Molina from Denver, CO. She left a troubled relationship and started work on her own as a janitor. She was able to get her kids coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program. She worked her way up to management and ended up getting a raise. That means her kids no longer qualified for health care assistance and their coverage was taken away. No matter how hard she continued to work, she just couldn't afford coverage for her children. "People shouldn't be punished for trying to improve their situation," she says.

5:44pm: Neera Tanden, JD is a senior advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services. She's speaking about the efforts in Washington around health care reform. The crowd goes wild when she says she believes we're "only months away" from finally fixing our broken system. Great quote from Tanden: "The cost of inaction is too great, the time for action is now."

5:39pm: WOW! Rabbi David Saperstein is giving a ROUSING talk. He has kicked the energy level through the roof - and it's hard to hear him at times over the cheers! From Rabbi Saperstein: "God did not divide creation between the sick and the well."

5:27pm: Starting a series of prayers from all different faiths. The first was a prayer for the victims of the Metro crash. We've all been dealing with that this week. SEIU 32BJ member Ana Fernandez was one of the victims - she was on her way to work as a building cleaner in DC. Everyone at SEIU is keeping her in our thoughts and prayers.

Next prayer is being sung by a Hindu group from New York. Very beautiful. The crowd seems to really be enjoying it.


5:21pm: Program is beginning. Reverend Tony Lee of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is on stage. "We're here because we understand that if one of us doesn't have, then we all don't have." The crowd is already energized; this is going to be great!


5:15pm: The main portion of the program is about to begin. The final pre-show performance is one I'm very familiar with: a vocal duo singing "A Balm in Gilead!"


5:01pm: Okay, the faith service is underway. Hosts for the event are taking the stage now, Sean Thibault and Renaye Manley. They're introducing a children's choir - the International Peace Choir.


Lots of other great things happening around the main stage, too. The Vogel Center has set up a booth to do free health screenings. Pretty cool!

4:51pm: Three liturgical dancers taking the stage. Really beautiful performance! Their outfits are stunning: flowing white dresses with neon colored scarves that highlight their movements. They're doing a prayer dance for community improvement. So fun to see all different beliefs and traditions interacting so far.


4:42pm: Just came in on my Twitter feed: @tnchange: Meet our lobby team! Heading to 1st event of our 2 day trip. Fighting for healthcare for all Tennesseans! http://yfrog.com/3x710cj

See you here in a few minutes!

4:33pm: I'm at Freedom Plaza where the crowd is starting to fill in! The faith service will be starting shortly. Right now, we're enjoying music from Lilo Gonzalez. Next up is a gospel trio. People are really getting into it!

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