Debating health care reform in LA

August 18, 2009

ON AUGUST 11, about 1,000 protesters and supporters of the White House health hare reform proposal turned out to a town hall meeting called by Congressman Adam Schiff. Schiff, a centrist "Blue Dog" Democrat, called the public town hall meeting to explain his support of the Obama health care plan and to answer questions from those opposed to health care reform.

The crowd was almost evenly divided on the issue. When Schiff asked from the stage, "Who is opposed to health care reform?" about half of the crowd jeered loudly. When he next asked, "Who supports health care reform?" again about half of the crowd responded. When he asked, "Who is here to learn?" the response was nearly silent.

Those who came in opposition were mostly from the extreme right wing, some from out of state, who are against any kind of health care reform in the United States at all. With American flags and signs reading: "Repeal Medicare" and "No Nazi Health Care," they tried to control the event in order to disrupt any discussion on health care reform.

Roughly half of the crowd was there in support of Obama's public option plan with signs reading " Public Option Now" and "Health Care Reform." The majority of Schiff supporters were mobilized by unions and organizations that favor the White House plan for health care reform. When a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organizer was asked whether she was aware of the single-payer option, she stated that she was and that SEIU was firmly against it.

The California Nurses Association and their supporters mobilized in smaller numbers to demonstrate their support for single-payer health care and to oppose the right-wing attacks on the idea of health care reform. Others in the crowd came to voice their support for the president and to express their hopes that the health care reform promised by the White House would actually meet their health care needs.

Sherri Brady, who came on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter who has Rett Syndrome, explained why she was there:

I'm here because I am hoping for a health care reform that will meet all people's needs. My daughter receives Medicare-type disability and it works great for us. But I know of a lot of people who have lost their disability care because of the California budget cuts. What is going to happen to them? I think everyone should have full coverage.

Katie Miller, Los Angeles

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