Opposition crashes MoveOn public health care option rallies
Please note the update to this story (below) since it went to air.
In Washington, D.C, Congress is considering a range of options for health care reform. This afternoon in Tampa, members of MoveOn.org lobbied both Florida Senators to support a strong “public option.” But they were outnumbered by people opposing a public health care option.
Outside of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa, the location of Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s regional office, more than twenty people opposing a public health care option held signs as traffic passed along Florida Avenue. Pam Hill, from Brandon held a sign saying “Stop Socialized Medicine.” She worked at a grocery store but is retired and has private health insurance because of contracts negotiated by her labor union, UFCW.
Outside the Federal Courthouse, three people supporting a public option debated with those who were opposed. Stephen Brown from Tampa is a graduate assistant at USF. Brown criticized the group protesting against a public option for suggesting that under a public plan the government will force people to go to a certain doctor – limiting choice of health care providers.
On Thursday afternoon, citizens supporting and opposing a public health care option met with staff at the Tampa regional office of Republican Senator Mel Martinez as well. Karen Ritchey from Tampa supports a public health care plan.
Janine Ortiz from Tampa had surgery at the Veterans Administration and opposes a public health care option.
St. Petersburg restaurant owner Emmanuel Roux supports a public option. He used to live in France – where he says the national health care was less expensive, better, and more convenient than in the United States.
Karen Reese is a chiropractor in St. Petersburg. She advocates for a single-payer national health care program that would provide complete medical care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. But since many Democrats and Republicans in Congress have taken single-payer off the table, Dr. Reese says a strong public health care option is needed.
Neither Senator was available for an interview. In a written statement, Senator Bill Nelson’s office said he supports a plan that involves federally-chartered co-ops that would be a non-profit substitute for insurance. Nelson's staff added, “There are several versions of a so-called public option, one of which Nelson supports. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee he's charged with finding a way to pay for it. And the price tag for health care reform has been put at $1 trillion over the next decade. So far, there's no bipartisan consensus on how to raise that amount of money.”
Senator Martinez’ office did not respond by airtime. In an email received after airtime, Senator Martinez wrote, “I’m committed to finding ways we can insure the uninsured and lower health care costs for all Americans. As the Senate begins deliberating potential solutions, I will remain engaged in bringing about a solution that’s affordable, protects access to your doctor, and doesn’t downgrade the quality of care.”comments powered by Disqus