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Posted on Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

Citizens rally at Farmers' Market for health-care reform

By Emma Kat Richardson

Saying far too many people cannot afford basic medical care, a group of Ann Arbor citizens gathered in front of the Farmers Market Saturday to call for national health-care reform.

Organized by local residents Eli Nathans, Madeleine Diehl and Amy Saunders, 20-30 demonstrators passed out homemade informational pamphlets and engaged several pedestrians in discussion about what they said is an urgent need for health-care reform. The demonstrators called for support of President Barack Obama’s plan and worked to spread information on the plan's proposed public option, which would provide government-funded health insurance.

“This issue is so critically important right now,” said Saunders an Ann Arbor physician. “No civilized society should have a bulk of its citizens living without adequate health-care coverage. As a doctor, I’ve far too often seen the negative repercussions of a flailing health-care system: people are unable to afford basic coverage, become more sick, and spend far more money than they should be. From an ethical standpoint, we cannot stand by and let health-care reform slide by while so many are suffering needlessly.”

Although the group was not affiliated with any political organization, many demonstrators were members of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, a local Quaker chapter devoted to public service and community activism.

“Health-care reform is absolutely a moral issue - we’re all equal in the sight of God,” said Thomas Taylor, a member of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. “To decide which among our community receives health-care coverage based on income and affordability is unethical and completely immoral.”

The group’s overriding goal of creating a community dialogue was more

than met, according to one organizer.

“We’re all in this together, and if we don’t listen and talk to one another, nothing will get done,” said Diehl. “Ann Arbor’s citizens are not exempt from this economic downturn that has stripped so many of their jobs, their health care plans, and their livelihoods. Change begins with discussion, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Photos by Liz Rooney. Top: Caroline Nathans carries a sign calling for health-care reform. Bottom: Several health-care reform proponents try to get their message noticed.



Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 9:13 p.m.

#1 President Obama outsourced health care reform to Congress. HR3200 is Congress' plan. President Obama has talking points, not a plan. #2 Frenchmen do not go bankrupt due to medical bills. They die first waiting for treatment. #3 There is no cofusion. Most intelligent American's know that they do not want the goverenment to take over health care. They like their health insurance coverage. We can solve the problems without government takeover. See Senate Bill 391 for examples. #4 The only confusion is why anyone would want government run health care. It does not work in Canada or anywhere else it is implemented. Quebec recently legalized private fee for service medicine because the Province could no longer adequetely supply service for its people. Italy has a two tier system. The poor go to underfunded public hospitals. Everyone else goes to private ones. Learn from the mistakes of others and do not repeat them here.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:42 a.m.

pbg - I'm certain they served the koolaid! Funny.

Tort Reform

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:36 a.m.

While it's true that "No civilized society should have a bulk of its citizens living without adequate health-care coverage", the US is hardly that society. The US already has the best health care system in the world. The bulk of US citizens have excellent, affordable health care. President Obama doesn't have a "health care plan". He'd sign anything presented to him by this congress. There are several bills in the House and the Senate, the foremost of which is the 1000+ page house bill (HR 3200). 1000 pages of lawyer-speak is bound to confuse most everybody - as it is meant to. Also, per the left's talking points, it's no longer "health care reform", but rather "health insurance reform". Try to keep up. The government is in over its head with the socialized medicine already in existence. Medicare and medicaid are bankrupt, and unsustainable. We can't afford to compound this problem. As a prerequisite to further "discussion" on this topic, let's see government's existing problems fixed, first. There is no such thing as "government-funded". It's taxpayer funded, and those of us still paying those taxes would do well to remind ourselves of that fact, every time we hear this blather. Stacking these deficits on the heads of our children, and their children, is shameful, and inexcusable. For those still suffering "confusion", the socialized medicine liberals have been foisting on us, with varying degrees of success since the days of Calvin Coolidge, is nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to impose socialism, explosively grow the bureaucracy, grab power, destroy individual liberty, ration care, pay off political cronies, and tell each and every one of us what we can do, what we can eat, where we can go, when we can see a doctor (of the government's choosing), and how long we should go on living.


Sun, Aug 30, 2009 : 8:44 p.m.

Wow a whole 20 to 30 people. Why didn't they go to the Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhnn lecture and pull a few more people in? Did they serve the koolaid?


Sun, Aug 30, 2009 : 11:01 a.m.

Good morning, Ann Arbor girl. I am one of the organizers of yesterday's event. We organized the event after realizing that all the misinformation injected into the public debate had left us feeling confused and unsure about what the legislation really says. So we set out to study the actual legislation ourselves and share what we learned at the event. The goal of the rally was to: 1. show our support for President Obama's healthcare reform plan, because we are concerned that the voices of people who support it are not being heard 2. listen to our neighbors' concerns about the proposed legislation; dispel the myths and share the truth of what we have learned about it; and point people to resources that could provide more information You'd be surprised at how much confusion about the legislation there is even here in Ann Arbor--of the 50 or so people I gave fact sheets to at the Farmers Market after the rally, I would say 30 expressed varying degrees of confusion. (Also you can see a good indication of just how confused and ambivalent many people are feeling about this issue just by reading the comments on this site to Friday's notice about the event.) I believe this confusion is largely due to efforts by the opposition to intentionally mislead people, but whatever the cause, the public's confusion and concern over the reform is very real, and it is causing critical momentum for reform to be lost--even among people you'd think would jump in and support reform and also voice their support to legislators. I think a lot of communities have made efforts to organize "town hall" meetings, and create public dialogue, only to have them be disrupted by outsiders. Our group is a grassroots effort, not affiliated with any group or political party, and so we have no intention to go to other communities with any kind of "message." We are just a group of Ann Arbor residents concerned that there is not much discussion going on here about the reform--and we know not everyone in this community is in agreement just from talking to our own friends. (Again, we learned that a lot of this disagreement has come as a result of misinformation and misunderstanding of what the actual proposed legislation really says.) If there are people in other communities who want to start a dialogue, just do what we did--get a group of 10 or so organizers, read the legislation (it's 1,000 pages, so you probably want to go to the catalogued summary provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation--please see link below), and get out there and let other people know what the plan for reform really says. If you don't agree with all of it, write to your legislators with your concerns, but please keep in mind--something is better than nothing at this point. Or at least that's my opinion. Maybe right now the reform plan is short of your idea of perfect, but we have to start somewhere, and while we wait to get this in place, people are literally dying because they are not getting the healthcare they need and deserve as fellow human beings. We all must listen to each other in a mutually respectful way. After all, we are neighbors, sharing the same fate. There is an urgent need for public education and discussion to take place asap, because if we let this opportunity go by, it's not going to come around again for a long time. If you have children who are eventually going to face a very tough job market, who will have to go without health insurance if they're unlucky enough not to get a good job that provides health insurance right away; if you yourself are at risk of losing your job; if you don't like seeing people homeless on the street who are sick and can't get treatment because they can't afford it--act now. Right now, forty to sixty percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical problems--and that number is only likely to grow as people who don't have jobs and therefore health insurance put off going to their doctors for health problems, and the illness worsens and eventually becomes life-threatening when it might have been very treatable if caught early. Educate yourself about what the law says, and if you can agree with all or most of it, please express your support to your legislators, and please start a respectful discussion with your friends and neighbors. We need to act now and get this through if we are going to continue to be a humane society that the rest of the world can look up to. Right now, people in the rest of the world are scratching their heads that we even have to have such an ugly debate about this. It's really a no-brainer: our safety net is broken, and we need to mend it, now, before more people fall through. For a readable summary of what the proposed legislation will and will not do, please see the website for the Kaiser Family Foundation: This website has the capacity to search by topic if you are concerned about specific issues in the proposed bill. Thanks for listening!

ann arbor girl

Sun, Aug 30, 2009 : 9:07 a.m.

Why would people stage this rally in Ann Arbor where the majority of people are already likely to support this issue...? Are people working to organize a rally in nearby communities where support may not be as strong to help bring greater awareness and publicity to the issue?