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Oregon’s Congress Members Rally Against Senate Health Care Bill: Single-payer health care garners support from crowd

On Wednesday, July 5, a few hundred people gathered at the steps of the Federal Courthouse in Eugene to listen to Rep. Peter DeFazio and sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. Constituents who came to support Oregon’s U.S. representatives’ opposition to the current Senate health care bill held signs supporting Planned Parenthood and universal health care.

Before the rally a dozen people laid on the ground with cardboard tombstones reading “coverage denied, denied and died and 23 million reasons.”

Ralliers with cardboard tombstones call attention to health care.

Steve Lehman with Indivisible Eugene said the organization was there to rally with their members of Congress and was part of the “tombstone visual.” “We just want to make sure people know this is not over, people will die if this is repealed and that we need to get the message out,” Lehman says. “We would like to actually see improvements to health care. So at a minimum, stop the repeal, keep what we have and then look at a way to improve upon what we had instead of making it worse.”

Sen. Wyden began by thanking the crowd for showing up. “Friends, there is one reason Mitchell McConnell had to pull his horrible health bill from the senate last week — all of you and your allies made him do it. You showed that political change isn’t trickle down — its bottom up.”

Wyden lambasted Trump and the proposed Senate health care plan.

“Donald Trump, you may be able to bankrupt a casino but you aren’t going to bankrupt the American health care system,” he said.

Wyden also added “Two-thirds of the patients in nursing homes have their care paid for by Medicaid. This bill has a double age tax. If you’re between 55 and 64 you have to pay five times as much as a young person and you get fewer tax credits.”

Sen. Merkley began by saying he was inspired by the signs in the crowd and said Trump has broken all of his promises about affordable health care.

“How about we make a promise that we can keep — like universal totally affordable quality health care just by the fact that you are an American citizen — how about that,” Merkley said.

 He continued, “FDR said the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much but whether we do enough for those who have little. Well, this is my question is it progress to throw 22 million off of health care? Is it progress that just in a single year, 15 million Americans would lose health care? That’s why we are fighting to stop this Trump care bill.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley

Rep. Peter DeFazio spoke to Eugene Weekly after the rally. He says that it is “absolutely” time for a single-payer health care system in the U.S.

“The Republicans are saying we’re in a crisis because some people, some counties there’s no health care plans offered. Well, if we had a national exchange plan sponsored by the government not for profit with good benefits, everyone in America would have that option, and I believe that would pave the way to an agreement that single payer is the best least expensive way to go,” DeFazio said.

Linda Pond said she attended the rally as a mother, nurse and a woman. “The current health care plan that’s on the table is not the appropriate health care plan for the American people. It leaves way too many people out, it will totally decimate women’s health care as we know today,” she said.

“Single-payer health care is the way to go. Insurance companies have to get out of the picture.”