Categorized | Politics

The Healthcare Debate Takes to the Pavement

by Carmen Williams

Members of staged a rally in support of new Healthcare Legislation

Members of staged a rally outside the New York Times building in midtown in support of new healthcare legislation

Bodies lay strewn across the pavement in front of the New York Times building in Manhattan Nov. 2, representing those who die every year for lack of health insurance in America.

The Halloween-esque “corpses” were members of, a liberal public advocacy group staging a Stand for HealthCare rally  as part of its national push for healthcare legislation that includes a public option for government-funded insurance.

“We are here today because Americans and New York State residents desperately need real healthcare options,” said David Braun, a council coordinator for the group and spokesman for today’s rally. recently voted to withdraw support from any politician who did not support the president’s healthcare reform. 

One passerby paid rapt attention to Braun. Pablo Rapado, a Spanish violinist, said as an uninsured freelance musician, this rally made sense.

“I saw a film about America’s healthcare system before I moved here and it scared me,” said Rapado. “In Spain, we have the best health insurance in the world. Everyone is insured.”

He echoed a sentiment of the many uninsured Americans– that he could not afford to fall ill in America.

“My friends have told me it’s cheaper to get a ticket home to Spain,” said Rapado, ” rather than to pay for an emergency room visit here in America.”

Lucy Bannon, 20, a student from Chicago, Illinois found the visual of the death toll sobering. Bannon questioned why so many lives are being lost because of the lack of healthcare.

The rally spokesman quoted a study that found that nearly 45,000 people die each year because of a lack of insurance. He said that nearly five people would have died in the hour it took for the rally to be staged. He called on the members and spectators to contact  Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer to offer their support of the legislation.

“The mark of a civilized society is measured by its ability to care of our sick,” said Braun. “We are not caring for our sick. The public option is the best way to save people money.”

Jacob James-Vogel, a former insurance company employee, said his sole job used to be to protect the insurance company’s assets. James-Vogel participated in the death scene, and viewed today’s rally as a way to give voice to those who have died without coverage.

“Over the past 10 years healthcare premiums have doubled as wages have been stagnant,” said Vogel. “It has outpaced inflation, and it’s a tragedy. We care more about profits and bottom lines than people.”

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