HOUSTON – A spirited rally was held recently at the Harris County AFL-CIO headquarters in Houston to support health care reform. The effort was called by Organizing for America which is the successor to Obama for America.

Participants were treated to rousing speeches from local elected officials who support health care reform, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Carol Alvarado, Texas State Senator, U.S. Rep. Al Green, and Jolanda Jones, Houston City Councilperson.

Congressperson Sheila Jackson-Lee said that we have been waiting 60 years for basic medical coverage for all, pointing out the Health Care Choice Act would cut waste, fraud and abuse. Jackson-Lee indicated and that although single-payer health care was the ideal, that the present bill would reduce health care costs for average Americans, families, businesses and government.

The Congresswoman stressed that for every $1.00 spent on health care, the government expects to get back $1.75 in savings. An advantage of the public option, she said, is that it will result in lowering the rates private care insurance companies charge in order to remain competitive.

Congressman Al Green praised organized labor and pointed out that labor is responsible for many of the benefits that many working people enjoy today, including the 40-hour work week, pension plans, minimum wages, vacation, sick leave, and medical leave. He noted that organized labor has supported all working people and that working people need to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Congressperson Green reminded the crowd that 47 million Americans are without health care. He stated that the U.S. has the most expensive “sickness care system” in the world. The U.S. spends 50 percent more than any other industrialized nation in the world on health care.

In Texas alone it was pointed out, 6 million are uninsured including 1.4 million children. Significantly 62 percent of bankruptcies are health care related.

Jolanda Jones, a progressive Houston City Councilperson, spoke in favor of health care reform as well. She called for “health care for all workers.” She said a public option will make small businesses more competitive. The legislator summed it up by saying “elected officials listen to two things – people with money and people who are organized” and then challenged the audience by declaring, “You know what we have to do.”