Friday, September 4, 2009

LA Health Reform Rally, 9/4/09

So yesterday I said, 'man forget this stuff man' (in person, I say 'man' at least once in every sentence), took a few hours off work, and I left sweet Hollywood.
(ghost of Michael Jackson entertaining tourists. A-wew-hew!)

My destination: a health care rally that, according to the website I signed up on, had 14 RSVPs. I was visualizing something like a crack team of organizers, surrounded by massive waves of angry, insurance-company supported teabaggers. But it was in Chinatown, and I do love Chinatown:
(it's funner than it looks.)

When I got there, though, I didn't find fourteen people, but hundreds -- two organzations (Organizing for America and Health Care for America NOW), a dozen speakers, Representative Jane Harman, the chief resident of LA County Hospital, a representative of the LA city council (which recently passed a resolution calling on the President and Congress to pass a strong public option), Veronica De La Cruz, who I wrote about early this week (she is apparently attempting to be everywhere at once -- she was in Nevada yesterday and on the East Coast at the beginning of the week) as well as all kinds of other folks. It looked like this:
The teabaggers I was so worried about: not in attendance. There were about eight abortion protesters, though, but even with their massive chopped-up baby pictures (which, if you can tell, were repurposed from another, likely more significant anti-abortion campaign) and their megaphones, they seemed sort of lonely and sad.
Still, though, someone there was taking them seriously -- the LA Times, apparently on the strength of their shouting, looked into the public option bill overnight and ran this editorial this morning, arguing that the bill is actually written, with respect to abortion, in a particularly sensitive way with respect to the abortion debate -- it cannot increase, and may decrease, the number of abortions for which the government provides funding. Still, it's a little bit depressing that somewhere, somebody is manipulating believers who want to help children into opposing legislation expressly designed to help children. It makes me a little bit happy that they're not having much success.
(Note: the cancer survivor's sign did not say "rightwing pies". Rightwing pies are actually pretty good pies.)

At the height of the rally, the organizers hefted up 200,000 Californian pledges for health care reform, in a mighty-big suitcase, added those we had signed during the rally, and headed off to Washington. Our representatives are reconvening -- President Obama will address Congress next Wednesday, September 9. This is, for the best chance we will have to see comprehensive reform in our generation, the final and most crucial stage. Everything -- and the energy and effort that President Obama's Organizing for America put into creating these rallies for a strong public option proves this to me -- everything is on the table. Anyone who is wasting their time arguing over who lost the health care battle has given up too early. If you care, you need to pitch in and call your senator (which Health Care for America will help you do with their toll free number at 877-264-HCAN).

I did. We called Diane Feinstein right there from the fairgrounds and told her to get it done. Afterwards, Chinatown seemed much nicer:
But Hollywood was still exactly the same. I didn't ask this guy if he has health insurance: that question would be silly, since nobody who works Hollywood Boulevard as a look-alike character does. Which is a shame, because he was working that suit hard.


  1. Every ray of hope turns a light on....thank you. I have witnessed, too, the low response messages, only to find hundreds showing up. It's very uplifting

  2. That's the truth. I think part of me was worried about going because I thought my voice wouldn't count and the other side would drown it out -- but I feel so much stronger knowing that there's this huge community of people working hard for the same good things I want, and rolling up their sleeves on behalf of the whole nation.

  3. Hi Nick,

    I too support health care reform. I think you're right that it's too expensive and too many people are locked out of the system. I wonder. If you found that the government's programs denied access to timely services to more people, would you be willing to consider removing or lessening the government's role in health care?

    If so, I think you might be interested in looking at the CATO Institute's policy proposal. My interpretation is that it would restore health care to like that of the eye surgery and cosmetic surgery fields, where individuals are more cost-conscious and less regulated. Those are both fields of medicine that have seen prices fall.

    All the best,

  4. Hi, Justino.

    I poked around at the CATO institute until I found their healthcare page, which is running a banner "Sorry, Folks, Sarah Palin is (partly) Right" -- that proposals in Congress would enhance "Medicare's ability to deny care to the elderly."

    I am sympathetic to free-market solutions for our problems, but this is a lie and an embarrassment for CATO. No limitations of any kind are placed on the purchase of private insurance or medical care in HR 3200 -- making it impossible for the government to 'deny care'. The difference -- between the government choosing to insure some things and not others (which is precisely what private insurers do) and "denying care" -- is an intentional fudging of language intended to frighten seniors, and represents the bottom of the think-tank barrel. I sometimes walk by the CATO offices in Santa Monica: now that you've shown me a little bit about their behavior, I'll make sure and spit on their doorstep when I pass by.

    With regards to eye and cosmetic surgery, I think that treating life-saving procedures in the same way that we do elective surgery is what got us into this mess in the first place -- not understanding that people will literally pay anything for pain relief and to be saved from fatal disease. This is the leverage private insurance industries use to steal from us, and ignoring the difference as you do aids and abets that theft.

    I'm also pretty sure that the decrease in costs seen in plastic surgery is driven by the availability of radically substandard care in Mexico, Costa Rica, etc. etc. Those options are available in the field of vital health care as well -- but nobody uses them. People will skimp on their eye tuck, but not on their kidney transplant. Different worlds.

    Thanks for stopping by!