Hundreds of Californians joined health care advocates, doctors, small business owners, civil rights and faith leaders armed with banners and signs to share their stories of health insurance industry abuses and to call upon Members of Congress to deliver on the promise of change by finishing comprehensive health care reform now and finishing it right.
Outside the offices of Anthem Blue Cross in downtown Los Angeles, over 250 people gathered at all four corners, with Korean drummers and “Honk of Health Reform” signs, to rally public support. Many shares their own stories as consumers – many of whom will be impacted by Anthem Blue Cross’ announced premium increases of up to 39%. “Over the last 38 months Anthem Blue Cross of California has already increased my premiums six times for a total increase of 117%,” said participant Steven Dornbusch. “I am one of those ‘privately insured’ California residents threatened with another whopping 36-39% increase. How can I afford to have my insurance premium triple over 4 years? I need opportunities and choices to purchase affordable coverage through a public option.”
In San Francisco, over 200 rallied and signed giant letters to California’s Senators, calling on Senators Feinstein and Boxer to be vocal leaders in the Senate by listing the many reasons California cannot afford the status quo and laid out a clear path to winning reform by passing a budget reconciliation bill to fix the shortcomings in the Senate Bill via a simple majority vote.
“Enough is enough. We voted for change, and we want results,” said State Campaign Director Patrick Romano of Health Care for America Now. “Congress has been debating health care reform for more than a year now. Meanwhile, as evidenced by Anthem Blue Cross’ recent rate hikes, everyday people are still at the mercy of insurance companies. Californians today are more likely to be uninsured, face a higher cost-of-living, are at greater risk to be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and less likely to be offered on-the-job coverage. Health reform would benefit Californian by providing new choices for the uninsured, more security for the underinsured, much needed stability to our safety net, and real savings for our state budget.”
Wednesday’s rallies – part of a week-long nationwide push in 32 states – also served as a kick-off to a “40 Days to the Finish Line” campaign throughout the state. In the 40 days leading up to Congressional Easter Break, Health Access California and Health Care for America Now in California will be urging Members of Congress to get a final bill passed by the Spring recess by having thousands of concerned Californians participate in daily actions and events to show their support for passing health insurance reform now.
“We need real solutions to our health care crisis, and we need them now,” Patrick Romano said. “In poll after poll, overwhelmingly Americans support health care reform. What we are conveying to our elected representatives is that there is a clear path forward and we are committed to seeing health reform get to the finish line – but we are also calling upon them to lead the way.”
Photos of these actions are available at our Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/healthaccess.