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On eve of White House summit, hundreds rally to demand reform

Date: 
02/24/2010

300 local business owners, union members, families and activists gathered at the Chicago Temple on the eve of the President Obama’s White House Health Care Summit. 

Steve Hart, whose partner Melanie Shouse recently lost her battle with breast cancer after her she could not find affordable health insurance, addressed the crowd via speakerphone. “Melanie would have been alive and well today if we had a health care system that worked. She would have gone to the doctor at the first sign of a lump in her breast,” he said.  Steve and hundreds of others are marching 135 miles from Philadelphia to Washington DC to tell Congress and President Obama to pass health care reform that works for the people, not the big insurance companies.

The current health care system does too little to help families and costs too much to our families or our economy:

  • 86.7 million Americans went without health coverage for all or part of 2006-2007.
  • Across America, twice as many people die from a lack of insurance as died from homicide.
  • Illinois pays $2.2 Billion a year in a “hidden tax” to cover uncompensated health care costs.

Folks attending the action left with signs, banners, flyers and other tools they will use to keep the pressure on Congress.  Attendees committed to calling Congress every day and continuing to fight to improve the bill until the day it is signed by the President.

“I am not here tonight to convince you the bill is good, far from it,” stated Andy Kurz, ex-CFO for Blue Cross Wisconsin.  “I am here to say that this bill is necessary, and in context, as transformational as Medicare was in 1965."

Representatives from Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Roland Burris and Representative Jan Schakowsky’s offices also spoke to the crowd.  “Illinois is one of 26 states that allow insurance companies to charge whatever premiums they want – without review” stated Leslie Combs, District Director for Representative Jan Schakowsky.  “Our insurance department doesn’t have authority to review rates – to deny unjustified increases – to demand refunds.  All of those authorities would be included in the bill.”