Packed house greets Kagen, calls for reform

A packed house of progressives, advocacy groups, community activists, labor unions and faith-based organizations joined Rep. Steve Kagen, M.D., (D-WI8) in calling for Congress to pass real health care reform that improves access and affordability and includes a public option to end the monopoly enjoyed by the health insurance industry.

For over three decades, I have been listening to people as their doctor, said Rep. Kagen. I am on the side of my patients and working hard for the 700,000 constituents I have the honor of representing. I know your doctor wants to do what is best for you ” not a corporations bottom line. It is time to kick the insurance companies out of our examination rooms. This will not be an easy fight, but it is a fight worth fighting. Together, we will win.

The rally, held at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bays student union, included a number of speakers offering stories about the critical importance of passing federal health care reform this year.

We are advocating health care reform that is quality, affordable and accessible for all, said Rev. Marian Boyle of Green Bays West Side Moravian Church and a member of JOSHUA, who served as the rallys master of ceremonies. Efforts made toward that end we affirm and celebrate.

Among the speakers at the rally was woman with a continuing heart ailment who told her health care story. The health insurance company was charging her employer $10,000 a year just in premium costs for her pre-existing condition. She lost her job and could not afford to go on COBRA at the $10,000-a-year premium cost. She is unable to purchase insurance on an individual policy because no company will insure her.Kagen, Boyle and the speakers calls for reform were echoed by a number of health care reform coalition members, including:

David Newby, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President: Our health care system is broken and we absolutely have to fix it. Within a few years only the rich will be able to afford any kind of decent insurance. Now is our chance to catch up to the rest of the developed world and guarantee that every American has the health care they need. We need a public health insurance option to control costs and keep the insurance companies honest and we need all employers to pay their fair share. We’re counting on Rep. Steve Kagen to be our champion in Washington to get the job done!

Rev. Joel Schlactenhaufen, ESTHER: Nobody should profit from my or anyone elses illness.

Mary Goulding, AFSCME Council 40 President: Its time that all Americans have the kind of quality, affordable health care that they deserve. We cannot afford the status quo. Unless we slow skyrocketing costs, working families and our entire economy will remain hostage to the increasingly unaffordable cost of health care.

Leon Burzynski, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans: Health care and Medicare reform is vital to preserving and improving Medicare for current and future retirees.

Tony Vanderbloemen, Greater Green Bay Labor Council President: Our current health insurance system is corrupt. A public health insurance plan option that provides affordable health insurance for all Americans is the means to end the corruption. Without a public health insurance option there is no health care reform. Status quo is not an option, it spells economic disaster.

Robert Kraig, Program Director for Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Skyrocketing health care costs in Wisconsin are unsustainable, and citizens are looking to their elected representatives for relief. Fortunately we have a champion in Congress in Dr. Steve Kagen who is ready to go back to Washington and finish the work on historic reforms that will guarantee affordable health care choices for all Wisconsin families.

Participating organizations included: AFSCME Wisconsin, AFT-Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Disability Rights Wisconsin, ESTHER, Fox Valley Area Labor Council, Greater Green Bay Labor Council, JOSHUA, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Marinette/Menominee Labor Council, National Association of Social Workers-Wisconsin Chapter, Northeast Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council, Organizing for America, SEIU Wisconsin State Council, United Steelworkers International Union, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, Wisconsin Education Association Council and Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

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