Just got back from a candlelight vigil for health care at the State House. Organizers from Progressive Democrats of America estimated the crowd at over 200.
The three Town Hall meetings were exercises in facing hostile crowds but this rally was like coffee hour after church. A few counter-demonstrators tried to interrupt the speeches, but the moderator, Dave St.Germain, had a bullhorn and the antis were pretty much ignored. Dave kept things focused and paced the event so well that people stayed to talk afterward. He introduced speakers who shared a personal perspective on our health care system–
Hanna Watson, a medical student, had a patient who brought her small daughter to a gyn office visit. The woman had no general medical doctor, and she did not dare to go to the emergency room for a cardiac workup she desperately needed. They say you can always go to the emergency room, but the bill will soon follow, and the bill collectors are relentless.
Nancy St. Germain, (not related to Dave) who was introduced by Rep. Langevin at the Warwick Town Hall, shared her experience of losing her job and her home when she was hospitalized for brain cancer. She had good insurance–until she got sick. Her story shows how easy it is to lose all you’ve worked for when your benefits are tied to your job.
We broke up into small groups to share our stories. A full moon was rising, downtown was beautiful and the candles were flickering. I spoke with a pediatrician, a med student and a small business owner. There was a woman whose friends, in their fifties and too young for Medicare, could not get insurance. There was a man who was self-employed, could not get insurance, and ended up with a huge debt when he had an accident.
I was struck by the diversity of the group, in age, race and politics. Some held signs for single-payer, some for public option. All of us were there because we want to see every American get health care when they need it. In the greatest country in the world we shouldn’t settle for less.
One legislator who supports health insurance reform, and who knows more than most about survival–Jim Langevin, spoke at a rally at Women and Infants earlier today. Rhode Island’s Future covers the event.
ProJo.com covers both, and the comment section is active.