Thousands march against health cuts in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Thousands of demonstrators protested here Aug. 20, in a massive march against the closing of hospitals and community health clinics by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

“These cuts won’t heal!” were the loud chants heard from the members of the Coalition for Healthy Communities, a broad organization composed of community groups, unions, religious leaders, elected officials, health care providers, business groups, patient advocates and educators.

The coalition packed the Supervisors’ public hearing while hundreds of unionists from the home care workers in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B marched outside.

Earlier the Los Angeles Police Department and their riot squad arrested many members of SEIU as they blocked two major intersections while chanting “No justice, No Peace.”

In spite of the coalition’s efforts, the Supervisors decided to proceed with the closure of 11 county clinics, four school-based health centers and the High Desert Hospital. One hundred beds will also be cut back from the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. In one year alone, 238,000 people walked through the doors in need of medical help in the clinics which will begin to close on Aug. 30. More health cutbacks are very likely to occur in October.

Tyrone Freeman, president of Local 434B, told the press that those affected by the health cuts have different priorities than the Board of Supervisors. Freeman said that the coalition will mobilize more thousands of Los Angeles residents to take to the streets, demanding that health care become a priority in the County.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org