Excellent turnout in downtown Raleigh for the pro-health care reform rally put together by President Obama's Organizing for America bunch -- easily 1,000. (Update: DNC says 1,500, which I wouldn't dispute; I've copied their press release below the fold. Amazing how the local media just about ignored this event -- for the "why" on that, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne is worth reading.) Interesting that they weren't all that cranked up by OFA Deputy Director Jeremy Bird the first time he spoke, nor by Congressman David Price, though they liked both. It wasn't until Rhonda Robinson, as she was winding up, declared "I'm for the public option, there's no other way," that people really started to get into it. Dustin Bayard, the Raleigh ACORN leader, stoked the crowd when he handed Price a stack of petitions with a pro-public option message. Then Dana Cope, the SEANC leader (state employees association), ripped into Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC and its CEO Bob Greczyn's $4 million a year take-home ("and they are a nonprofit," Cope sneered), demanding: "We need a public option, and we don't want to compromise."
Cope got a huge response, prompting him to get even madder. "They are afraid," Cope snarled at Blue Cross, "they might go out of business if they have to compete with a public option? I say, pack 'em up, boys!"
The crowd roared its approval. "Let's keep the fight alive," Cope shouted, his voice at its breaking point, "and don't let those bloodsuckers take it away from us this time!"
Now the crowd was chanting, "Public option! Public option! as Bird came back for a wrap-up. "I thought no one out there was supporting health insurance reform," Bird tried gamely, referring to the idiot coverage of the health care debate on the cable news nets. But the crowd wasn't into the "insurance reform" meme. "Public option! Public option!" Almost everyone there was yelling it out.
Bird, jazzed that the crowd was jazzed -- and stepping up to the challenge of matching Cope's energy -- then went over President Obama's principles going into his scheduled address to Congress next Wednesday night, primetime, for all the marbles. First, "cutting costs," Bird said. Second, for those with insurance, "preserving and protecting choice." And third, for the 45 million Americans without insurance, "We are going to give you an option, including a public option!"
They were the magic words that the crowd needed to hear. As Bird wrapped it up -- no more insurance b-s about pre-existing conditions, or dropping your coverage because you're sick, and no more whopping co-pays and deductibles with your so-called insurance, 1,000 voices let loose with the trademark Obama blast: "Yes, We Can!" they chanted. And then, "Yes, We Will."
No doubt the President's team is polling all the issues of health care reform like crazy. But about one question, they should be in no doubt: The people who are most devoted to Obama, and to health care reform as a cause, want a public option as part of reform -- and think that if it isn't, if the President gives it up, it won't be reform at all.
From the Democratic National Committee:
OVER 1,500 NORTH CAROLINIANS RALLY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM AT ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA’S "HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM NOW: LET’S GET IT DONE!" STOP IN RALEIGH YESTERDAY
Yesterday’s event ends two weeks of stops in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Des Moines, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Charlotte with thousands of supporters as momentum builds to pass health insurance reform this year
Over 1,500 North Carolinians rallied to support efforts to pass health insurance reform this year at Organizing for America's Health Insurance Reform Now: Let’s Get it Done! Bus Tour stop in Raleigh yesterday. Organizing for America Deputy Director, Jeremy Bird was joined by Representative David Price (NC-4) and other community leaders who spoke on the importance of reforming America’s health insurance system this year.
The tour kicked off two weeks ago with stops in, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Des Moines, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Charlotte where thousands have rallied to show their support for passing reform this year. The tour is part of a wider set of events over the course of the last two weeks being held throughout the country highlighting the strong support for reform nationwide.
These strong showings of support offer further evidence of the building momentum to pass health insurance reform this year which lowers costs, protects choice and ensures all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.
In addition to these basic principles, President Obama announced eight Health Insurance Guarantees which will protect the millions of Americans who already have insurance, but aren’t getting the care they need because of sky-rocketing out of pocket expenses and unfair insurance company practices: 1) no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, 2) no exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, or co-pays, 3) no cost-sharing for preventive care, 4) no dropping of coverage for the seriously ill, 5) no gender discrimination, 6) no annual or lifetime caps on coverage, 7) extended coverage for young adults, and 8) guaranteed insurance renewal.
OFA National Director Jeremy Bird
“This is serious. Every single one of us has something to lose if we do nothing. Health insurance reform won't only effect people without insurance - it's about anyone who's ever been afraid of losing their coverage because they got sick, changed jobs or lost their job. Reform will protect and promote choice for all Americans. If you have insurance, and you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you’re one of the 46 million Americans who don’t have insurance, reform will give you have a menu of quality, affordable plans to choose from.”
Congressman David Price (D-NC)
"Health care expenses are eating us alive and we still have 45 million uninsured. This is not sustainable for our families, for our businesses, or for our government. So the need for reform could not be clearer. We need to fix what’s broken without breaking what’s already working well, and that's exactly what we plan to do with health insurance reform."