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NEA Rallies for Health Insurance Reform

By Mary Ellen Flannery and Amanda Litvinov

It wasn’t the 94-degree weather that had Harriet Phelps and a lot of other people hot under the collar at an August 20 rally in D.C. It was the idea that affordable, high-quality health care remains out of reach for 45 million Americans.

Even as the White House and legislators continue wrestling over basic principles of health-care reform, roughly a thousand protesters—including hundreds of staffers from NEA and other unions—sent a clear message at the afternoon rally just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. And the message was this: Everyone in American should have low-cost, high-quality health care. At the same time, NEA believes legislative reform should include a public option, but not taxes on employer-provided health care. 

“I want the public option, absolutely,” said Phelps, a retired biology professor from Greenbelt, Maryland. “That’s the key.”

Signs held aloft on Thursday announced, “Health Care Reform is Patriotic!” and “Public Option= Affordable Health Care.” Despite the high temperatures, spirits did not wither and the heat couldn’t stop the singing and chanting.

“I’m here because many of our members can’t afford their health premiums. . .  and many of their family members aren’t covered under their plans,” said Carol Malone of NEA Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy. And it’s not just an issue for educators at home – it’s also an issue for educators at work, facing a classroom of students who might not have access to adequate health care. How do you learn to read if you’re too sick to come to school?

The reform-minded felt confident Thursday that President Obama heard their collective voice as he drove by in a pre-scheduled Presidential motorcade. But you too can be heard in the health care debate – with just a click of your computer. Tell Congress to craft health care reform proposals that will ensure quality, affordable health care for everyone in America.

Video

Health Care Rally in Washington, DC

Health Care Rally in Washington, DC