Opposition crashes MoveOn public health care option rallies listen07/09/09 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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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 â€œpublic option.â€ 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 Nelsonâ€™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 â€œStop Socialized Medicine.â€ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ 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 Nelsonâ€™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, â€œThere 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.â€
Senator Martinezâ€™ office did not respond by airtime. In an email received after airtime, Senator Martinez wrote, â€œIâ€™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 thatâ€™s affordable, protects access to your doctor, and doesnâ€™t downgrade the quality of care.â€