While Media Focuses on Obamacare Glitches, Hundreds in MD Call for Universal Healthcare
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Jose Gil
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Protesters organized by Health Care is a Human Right - Maryland took to the streets in Baltimore demanding healthcare as a basic human right.
“We didn't start a movement to be anti-Obamacare or to be anti-CareFirst or anti-Kaiser,” says Sergio Espana of Health Care Is a Human Right - Maryland. “We started a movement for something. And it was to remind ourselves that there are fundamental public goods. And we understand that we need to fight to make sure that they're actually protected. And chief among them, in terms of our organization, our campaign, is that health care itself is a public good.”
The march route included the headquarters of CareFirst, one of Maryland’s largest health insurance providers. CareFirst says they plan to increase rates on January 1 because President Obama's healthcare reforms will increase their costs. They will increase the cost of their individual policies by an average of 25 percent.
“We didn't have a debate during the health-reform process,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program. “It was completely scripted to pass this piece of legislation that props up the health industries. And so now that the exchanges are opening and people are going to see that the market-based system doesn't work, more and more people are going to have problems affording the health care they need.”
Universal health care advocates in Maryland say they hope to emulate successes in Vermont, which will be launching the country's first single-payer health care system in 2017.
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Obamacare was the target of the Tea Party-led government shutdown, and the media's spotlight remains on the numerous glitches facing the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges.
But on October 26 in Baltimore, protesters took to the streets in an attempt to change the conversation. Their message: access to quality health care is a basic human right.
ERNEST BEAR LINDSAY, UNITED WORKERS: My name is Ernest. Everybody in United Workers calls me Bear.
It was important for me to come out here today because Maryland does not have universal health care, our country does not have universal health care. I myself had to fight and go without health care for about four, five years, which I now have because I'm on SSI and I'm also a vet.
But this country can be the world police. Why can't we have universal health care? Other countries, like Italy, Germany, France, have universal health care.
We need to take care of our own here first. You know. And you've got people running around that don't have health care that have to pay--decide whether they're going to pay for medicine or rent or phone bill. And that doesn't need to be so.
NOOR: The event was organized by the group Healthcare is a Human Right - Maryland, and activists used the opportunity to flyer and talk to residents about why they think everyone be guaranteed access to health care. The march was met with a favorable reaction from local residents.
DARIA MILLER, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: My name is Daria Miller. I'm a resident in the neighborhood. And I absolutely agree with them. Health care is a human right. It's a basic human right. Absolutely.
NOOR: So right now it's not a guaranteed right. Obamacare's expanding coverage, but it's still going to leave 30 million people uninsured. Like, in Maryland it's more than about, like, 300,000 or 400,000 people. Why is that a concern to you?
MILLER: This country's rich enough for us to be able to have health care for every single human being. It's at the core of who we are.