Pro-reform rally held at SDSU

Vanessa Marcano

Vanessa Marcano

As part of the nationwide campaign for health care reform, several local organizations joined forces to hold a rally on Oct. 20 in the basement of the South Dakota Art Museum in favor of President Barack Obama’s health care proposal.

Campus Women’s Coalition, SDSU College Democrats, Organizing For America and Brookings County Democrats organized the rally, which sought to convince attendees that health care reform is necessary. During the event, the various groups encouraged attendees and the general public to take action by calling their congressional representatives since it was National Call-In Day for Health Care Reform.

Amanda Mack, local director of Organizing for America and a 2005 SDSU graduate, said the main goal of the rally was to get some energy built up around the community regarding Obama’s health care reform.

“Today is also a day of action, where we’re asking our friends and family members to call Congress members and express support for the president’s plan,” she said.

Keynote speakers at the rally included former SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller, Rick Holm, a Brookings physician belonging to the health and public policy committee of the American College of Physicians; Representative Martha Vanderlinde and Liz Jeppersen, president of Campus Women’s Coalition and a junior art education major.

Miller opened the rally, stating that taking a stance on health care reform was an issue of morality and humanity.

Holm said there are two key issues to the health care debate: cost and access. Holm told the crowd that he had heard one of the major House bills, which supports a public option but would not contemplate mandatory health care, may be passing very soon.

“This is something that both Democrats and Republicans can stomach,” he said. “This bill will give more access to health care, but it may not be great in controlling costs.”

Vanderlinde, also a nurse, said she was outraged by the fact that South Dakota is one of the eight states in which insurance companies regard domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition.

The representative said she was very worried about people who had to file for bankruptcy simply because they could not afford to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Jeppersen encouraged students to be more informed about the significance of health care reform. She said it was not fair for anyone to be denied health care on the basis of being unemployed, not being eligible because they were not in college or simply because they were unable to pay.

Despite the support exalted by the speakers and participants, there are still several concerns voiced by those who oppose health care reform.

Three protestors to the health care rally were spotted with signs outside the South Dakota Art Museum, but they did not go inside to interact with the speakers and the crowd.

Across the nation, many opponents wonder about the costs at large that a health care reform bill would entail, whether it shows up in taxes, greater budget expenditures and an increasing deficit.

These people say there are questions regarding the flexibility of procedures, as well as the waiting time for certain cases, given the fact that demand for government-run health care could skyrocket. Detractors of health care reform worry that people with voluntary unhealthy habits – such as tobacco use – will affect and burden the rest of the country with extra costs in health care.

Hassan Ali, a freshman political science and global studies major, said he supported the health care reform.

“I’m a student; I don’t have health care. I went to the Wellness Center to get an IV and a flu assessment, and I had to pay $75 that I don’t have right out of my pocket,” he said. “Then people talk about death panels. It’s the insurance companies, with their rules on preexisting conditions, who are the real death panels.”

State Senator Pam Merchant was also among those at the rally.

Merchant said that preventative care and quality of life were essential in order to build a new economy.