Health care should be a right of all Americans, including the 47 million that cannot afford it.
This was the key principle among over 1,000 attendees at the Single-Payer Health Care Rally in Harrisburg, Pa.
“Quality health care is a right of every man, woman and child,” Sen. Jim Ferlo said.
State representatives, senators, health care advocates, labor union members, doctors, nurses and patients rallied in support of single-payer health care at the state and national level in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, Oct. 20. An advocacy group supporting the bill said it wants passage of a Pennsylvania law so that “our citizens are guaranteed quality, comprehensive, affordable, single-payer medical care.”
“You are a part of this very important social change movement,” Kate Michelman, Women’s Rights Activist, said.
Keynote speakers, including State Rep. Kathy Manderino and Sen. Ferlo, spoke in favor of Pennsylvania’s pending HB 1600 bill.
Former Cigna Executive, Wendell Potter, apologized for testifying against universal healthcare benefits.
“I let myself become removed from reality,” Potter said.
If the bill were to be passed, private insurances would be eliminated and all Pennsylvanians would be insured.
Patients would have free choice of doctors and hospitals giving them authority over their care.
Pennsylvania’s employers would pay a 10 percent payroll tax and its employees would pay a 3 percent payroll tax.
Currently, Pennsylvania is leading the way for single-payer health care and Gov. Ed Rendell guaranteed he would sign the bill.
Among the attendees were Cabrini social work majors enrolled in Kristin Nicely Colangeo’s social wefare development policy and service class.
The students sat behind the speakers on the rotunda steps and held signs.
Following the rally, the students got to talk with some of the speakers.
Donna Smith, star of Michael Moore’s documentary SiCKO, explained why students should join in the fight for single-payer healthcare.
“Everything about your future is determined by our health care,” Smith said.
She told a story about a 28-year-old who had hopes of becoming a graphic designer. Since she suffered from Crohn’s disease, her goals were altered and she worked towards getting a job with good benefits. This eventually consumed her life leaving her to wonder what might have become of her life.
“She wondered, I don’t think that’s what any students go to college for,” Smith said.
Although not a speaker, Blair Hyatt, Executive Director of Pa. Head Start Association, talked about the importance of hope in fighting for an issue.
The students were also encouraged to take action.
Contacting representatives via handwritten letters, sending letters to the editor and verbalizing their concerns were all recommended.
“Find something you want to do and do it,” Hyatt said.
“It takes hopeful individuals to make it happen.”
From the day’s events students walked away with a sense of purpose.
“You have to get creative and enthusiastic, encourage people to write letters to people in power,” Lisa Stockton, senior social work major, said.
“If you really believe in it and want to pass it, then rallying together is the way to do it.”