Posted: Jan 26th, 2012
LA Solidarity Rally & Speakout
On Monday, January 9, hundreds of single payer healthcare activists took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles staging a New Orleans style, jazz funeral procession through the financial district, complete with an eight-piece band. The “funeral” mourned the losses of the thousands of people who die each year either because they lacked health insurance, or were denied medical care by greedy insurance companies. The march began at Pershing Square, where the funeral mourners assembled. There were doctors, nurses, patients, students, members of the Occupy movement, and other social justice activists who marched.
Some carried symbolic coffins and held signs stating, “health care is a human right” and demanding “healthcare for the 99%.” After a brisk three-quarter mile march through the bustling city center, we arrived at the offices of insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross. We placed a placard on the building, declaring Anthem a public health hazard. The rally had several passionate speakers who addressed the crowd. The first was a woman named Lindsay Mofford who is currently going through a horrific ordeal with Anthem, trying to get continuous care for her husband who is ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lindsay’s family currently spends $10,000 a month out of pocket for his care. Geri Jenkins from CNA spoke of her experience as a nurse on the front lines, whose patients regularly delay seeking care because they are either underinsured or uninsured. Bob Peck from PNHP spoke of his healthcare activism since the Truman administration as a physician and activist for single payer. Jamie Garcia, a nurse for Occupy LA spoke about how serving patients at the Solidarity park encampment helped her understand how far and wide this crisis reaches. Her service solidified for her that everybody deserves care, not just those who can afford it. Those attending the rally were then invited to speak-out about their own health care stories. It was very empowering for people to have the opportunity to air their grievances against our for-profit medical system and also important to have the people’s voice heard. Because that is what this movement is all about — compassion. As a society, we need to acknowledge that every life is valuable, and worth our collective resources.
As the event wrapped up, and folks began to go their separate ways, the feeling in the air remained one of hope, accomplishment and inspiration. The march was such a success due in part to all those who came out to participate, but also because of the hard work and long overtime hours of our dedicated actions committee of the Campaign for a Healthy California. In early December, representatives from Physicians for a National Health Program, Single Payer Now, California Nurses Association, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Health Care for All-SFV, Labor United for Universal Healthcare and the Wellness Committee of Occupy LA got together to see if this was even a possibility. We expected about 50 people to show up, and were floored when we ended up with almost 300! The event was in solidarity with the hundreds of CaHPSA students marching and lobbying in Sacramento, advocating for SB 810, the California Universal Healthcare Act. This was a great effort, with great results, and serves as a fine example of the good that comes when hearts and minds unite with a common goal and persist in accomplishing that goal.