Rallies on West Slope call attention to health care reform
Rich Huttenhower of Carbondale has long been a champion for national health care reform, but said he was called to action after a personal experience dealing with his health insurers recently.
“I’ve been on my soap box about health care for a long time, but this finally pushed me over the edge,” said Huttenhower, who is organizing one of two local rallies this week in support of President Obama’s health care reform efforts.
Huttenhower said he had an MRI procedure done this spring, and was required to pay $1,925 up front until things could be worked out with his insurance. He said he had already met his $2,500 deductible for the year, but then learned that his insurance would only cover $598 toward the procedure, leaving him holding the rest of the bill.
It’s just one example of many he is inviting people to share at a Roaring Fork Valley For Health Care Reform organizing event, to be held Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. at Carbondale Town Hall.
As a precursor to that meeting, the national Change that Works Campaign is organizing one of six rallies around Colorado in Glenwood Springs at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Axtell Park, located at the corner of Cooper and 11th Street behind the Chamber Visitor’s Center.
The events are both intended to rally attention around health care reform and urge congressional support for President Obama’s health care reform plan.
“The point of rally is to bring folks together who have health care stories to share,” campaign organizer Jordan Young told the Post Independent. “It will also focus on rallying people to contact their congressmen and senators and urge them to support legislation that lowers health care costs for all Americans, and that includes a public option that makes health care accessible to all Americans.”
Rallies will also be held Tuesday in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Grand Junction.
“Glenwood Springs is a pretty essential town to us in getting the word out,” Young said. “We wanted to find places that have large population centers, and have a strong political voice.”
The rally will invite individuals and small business owners to share stories about health care and speak to any challenges that they have experienced in the current system.
“We’ve known that the health care system has been a problem for a long time, but now we finally have a chance to get some health care reform done in this country,” Huttenhower said. “There are a lot of people who feel that way, and we want to hear from them.”
He noted that the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the country is escalating medical bills.
“Even if people have health care coverage, they’re still going bankrupt,” Huttenhower said. “It’s a system that’s completely broken.”
He said the current system of universal health care – Medicaid and Medicare – is part of the problem.
“We have between 40,000 and 50,000 uninsured people in this country,” he said. “What happens is that the hospital doesn’t take a loss, they just charge more money to those who theoretically can pay for it.
“There are so many inefficiencies in system, and what we’re doing now is certainly not the answer,” Huttenhower said.
He and Young said they welcome anyone with differing opinions on health care reform to the respective events, but the intent is to rally support for the Obama plan.
“The whole intent is to get people engaged and understand what’s going, and to call their congressman and senators,” Huttenhower said.
Added Young, “The rally is certainly open to anyone who wants to come, and we wouldn’t discourage anyone from coming who wanted to find more information.”