JEFFERSON CITY, MO – “I was too expensive, so they got rid of me,” Robert Green told hundreds of rural Missourians who rallied for health care reform here on the Capital steps September 2.

Green lost his job in 2006 due to a disability. “They got rid of me because my health care cost too much,” he said.

Additionally, he had to wait five months for disability relief and another two years before he became eligible for Medicare. “People shouldn’t have to wait to get health care,” Green added.

“Missouri’s ruling party has turned their backs on us,” Green said. The Missouri house and
senate are dominated by Republicans who doggedly refuse health care reform. In fact, under the former Republican Governor Matt Blunt 100,000 Missourians were taken off the Medicare roles, including 25,000 children.

“They’re letting the lobbyists pad their pockets. This is about people, not profits. Get the lobbyists out of Washington,” he continued.

The theme of the rally was to urge Congress to get back to work passing health care reform. Congress reconvenes on September 8.

Judy Baker, a former state representative from Columbia, MO, told participants, “health care isn’t just another item on the political agenda. It has real life consequences. Every day one person in Missouri dies because they don’t have health care.”

Baker added, “Health care reform cannot wait. For financial reasons, for the deficit, for our families and for moral reasons, health care reform cannot wait.”

Baker also chided the right-wing Republican fear mongering. “Enough is enough is enough of the fear,” she said. “There are no death panels. No one is going to pull the plug on grandma.” She said there is nothing wrong with honest debate around complex issues that sincere Americans are concerned about. However, she added, “enough of the imaginary enemies.”

House Minority Leader Paul LeVota couldn’t agree more. He said, “we know they are lying. But we have to have the courage and conviction to remember the thousands who have been denied coverage. This is about them.”

Disabled activist Richard Blakley said he was tired of the Missouri Republicans blocking state-level reform. “We need to bi-pass the state,” he said. “We need to support the federal government in its reform efforts and make the state comply. Then we’ll be one out of 50 states with real health care reform.”

Blakley also discussed the death panel issue. He said, “You want to see real death panels? HMO’s are death panels. If you’ve ever been rejected service by a health care provider, you know there are death panels. It ain’t right. They know it and we know it.”

“The big insurance and big pharmaceutical companies have billions of dollars. Confusion reigns because of their big money,” Blakley added.

Melanie Edwards found out nine months ago that she has breast cancer. She has health care. However, “my health care provider hasn’t paid one penny. My bills are now over $100,000. The insurance company says they are investigating. They say it was a pre-existing condition,” Edwards added.

Edwards said she had to track down all of her old medical records and mail them to the insurance company. “What kind of country puts its citizens through something like this when they’re sick,” she asked?

She added, “The insurance companies are only chasing the dollars. They are giving me the intentional run-around. How is this helping people get healthier,” she asked?

John Bowman, a retired United Auto Workers’ Union member and former state representative, connected the struggle for stronger unions to living conditions for non-union workers. He said, “my union used to set the standard for health care coverage in this country. As my union’s health care plan was dismantled, everybody’s health care plan has suffered.”

He said, “We live in a vicious, vicious environment where Wall-Street greed has given way to health industry greed. I don’t know about you,” Bowman added, “but I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

According to Robin Acree, from GRO-Grassroots Organizing, a Mexico, MO based organization, “all nine congressional districts are represented here.”


Tony Pecinovsky
Tony Pecinovsky

Tony Pecinovsky is the author of "Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA" and author/editor of "Faith In The Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA." His forthcoming book is titled "The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation, and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946." Pecinovsky has appeared on C-SPAN’s "Book TV" and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country.