Hands Off Health Care tour bus comes to Tampa

09/18/09 Seán Kinane
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“Hands Off My Health Care” is the message being sent to Congress by about 20 people who gathered this afternoon. The Florida “Patients First” Bus Tour stopped at the American Legion in South Tampa.

Two people phoned the offices of Tampa-area U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, while others chanted “hands off my health care.” Marsha Probst says the person who answered the phone at Castor’s office couldn’t understand what the chanters were saying. Probst, a nurse from Reddington Beach, doesn’t “want to see rationed health care” and worries about a shortage of doctors if more people are insured.

“[Castor’s receptionist] just listened. She really didn’t say anything at all.”

Mike Freese, from St. Pete, is an artist, political activist, and a retired special agent from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. He brought two of his paintings, both depicting President Obama. One is Obama dressed up as Uncle Sam wearing a hammer and sickle, the other is Obama as the Joker from a deck of playing cards.

While Democratic members of Congress and the President are trying to pass a health care reform bill, rallies like this and the TEA parties are a platform for people opposed to the plan. Dorothy Adams from South Tampa worries about the effect of lawsuits against doctors.

In a presidential memorandum on Thursday, Barack Obama announced a $25 million preliminary program that could reform the medical malpractice system. The program intends to help states and localities protect doctors from lawsuits while at the same time making sure that victims of malpractice get fair compensation.

60-year-old Pam Stine from Tampa is concerned about possible changes that could mean she might lose her current insurance.

Emergency room physician James Davison says he wishes that Congress would listen to the “voices of the people” to create “national access to episodic health care.” People would then be able to get urgent care for a co-payment of about five dollars. It would “reduce the cost of everyone’s insurance,” Davison says. But the doctor from Tampa denies this would be a type of “socialized medicine” that others at the rally are criticizing.

The four-city tour through Florida is organized by “Patients First,” a project of Americans for Prosperity. A tour bus with their slogan, “Hands Off My Health Care” painted on the side is taking organizers, like Scott Toomey, around the state.

The Florida Patients First Bus Tour started Thursday in Jacksonville and Orlando and is concluding at 6pm Friday in Tallahassee.

Patients First

Americans for Prosperity

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