On the heels of the news that the insurance industry posted record profits last year while simultaneously cutting millions of Americans' coverage off entirely, hundreds of health care supporters are taking to the streets to rallies, vigils and marches in multiple states across the country. Their simple message to Congress? Listen to the people, not the insurance companies.
Here's a sprinkling of some of the events that have taken place so far to demonstrate the dire need for reform.
On Wednesday, more than 100 local business owners and families gathered in front of Aetna Insurance Headquarters to protest their announcement to drop another 650,000 clients "to meet profit expectations." The activists told health care stories, picketed and chanted in front of the insurer's Chicago office, garnering Aetna's attention (as well as the media's). CBS, the Chicago Tribune, Univision, and several blog news services covered the story.
Around 100 activists rallied at the Kennedy Plaza, emphasizing the need to look out for workers' rights and reform our broken health care system. From The Providence Journal:
Their message to the Rhode Island delegation was not a new one, but it was impassioned: "No Excuses. No more politics. Congress must act to create jobs and to pass strong health-care reform."
In Hartford, workers who've had enough of insurance companies' denied claims, inflated profits and soaring premiums held a rallly last night outside the Connecticut Business and Industry Association offices. The dedicated health care activists braved the cold wind and snow to let the state's largest business lobby know they're serious about health care reform. Watch:
"The health of our families and the health of our economy depend on passing health care reform" stated John Gaudette, Citizen Action/Illinois state health care director. "Aetna is dropping 650,000 clients because their profits dropped by $100 million to $1.3 Billion, while the CEO makes $194 million in stock options. President Obama must begin to see this as a justice issue like the Voting Rights Act, not just another piece of legislation to be negotiated. You can't negotiate with greed."
In San Francisco, HCAN organized a rally at Justin Herman Plaza. Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare members joined in the event, with CIR's Dr. Basim Khan (pictured below) from San Francisco General Hospital speaking.
CIR members also spoke at HCAN rallies in Santa Fe and several other cities.
On Wednesday night, Melanie's March participants held a moving vigil at Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park with community members, as well as several SEIU Local 32BJ members. Along the way, the group is gathering stories demonstrating the need for healthcare reform. At the vigil, UFCW, SEIU, a doctor and two women who are marching (who don't have health insurance) shared their stories. Read coverage of the vigil in The Delaware County Daily Times.
After a year of debate, Congress must listen to the needs of working Americans--not the insurance lobbyists who are spending millions to block health care reform and protect their profits. HCAN and its partners, including SEIU, will hold 40 events over the next week to drive this message home, leading up President Obama's highly-anticipated healthcare summit with congressional leaders on Thursday, February 25th.