Politico

Big Capitol Hill Rally For Health Care

Politico — Thursday, June 25, 2009

By: Alex Isenstadt

Thousands of grassroots activists and labor workers from across the country flooded Capitol Hill Thursday for a high-volume rally for health care reform.

The rally came as President Barack Obama's plan encounters its toughest resistance on Capitol Hill yet. Republicans are mounting stiff opposition to a public option, and members of both parties have sticker shock over the projected costs of reform.

Supporters vowed Thursday not to back down.

"We want health care reform," told Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) supporters, gathered at Russell Park across the street from the Capitol. "We aren't going to wait another 150 years. We're going to do it now."

"It is about time the greatest country in the world has the greatest health care in the world," Schumer added.

Health Care for America Now, an organization that is mounting an aggressive public lobbying effort in support the president's plan, organized the event.

But at the rally, there were reminders that the health care reform effort has its detractors.

While Schumer spoke, one protester grabbed a bullhorn and yelled his support for a single-payer health care option - nearly drowning out Schumer.

AFSCME President Gerry McEntee and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged supporters to lobby their members of Congress to support a reform bill - and told them not to let well-funded health industry opponents bring the effort to a halt.

"Let it be known that our opposition will fight hard, they will fight dirty, they will outspend us," said McEntee.

"The private health care industry will not hijack this process," Brown said. "We're counting on you...to persuade, to cajole, to do whatever you do to get a public option."

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