Americans take pride in the fact that their country provides incredible opportunities for people from all backgrounds. But those opportunities, and our very idea of what it means to live in America, are threatened when we cannot provide for our basic health needs.
One out of three of us have gone without health insurance at some point over the last two years. Thousands of Americans file for bankruptcy every day, and medical expenses contribute to about two thirds of these bankruptcies. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year as a result of not having health insurance. And to top it all off, we actually pay more per capita than other developed countries for our health care!
The facts make clear that the status quo is unacceptable and unconscionable. But those who are heavily invested in the current health care system and those with extreme anti-government views are not engaging us with facts. Instead, right-wing politicians, media personalities and extremist organizations are peddling lies about what health care reform will accomplish and are encouraging their vocal supporters to shout down any public figure who wants to discuss the facts.
(See our take on the extremists that have shown up to shout down members of Congress at town hall meetings.)
It's Time to Fight
Citizens for Tax Justice has worked for several months with other advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, service providers and unions to educate lawmakers and the public about progressive ways to pay for health care reform. (See our state-by-state figures on various proposals to pay for reform.) The efforts of this coalition, Rebuild and Renew America Now (RRAN) and the efforts of health care advocates will be for nothing if the small minority of extremists is allowed to shut down any rational discussion of reform.
Here are some suggestions from our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs on how you can fight for health care reform:
1) Attend a meeting held by your U.S. Representative and/or Senators. Let them know you support comprehensive health care reform!
Here's a list of meetings: http://chn.org/pdf/2009/HealthTownHallsAug09.pdf
[Note: It is strongly suggested that you call your member's office to confirm meeting details.]
2) Call your Member of Congress, if he/she is on one of the three House committees that approved health care legislation.
Here's a list of all Committee members and how they voted: http://chn.org/pdf/2009/HR3200Committeevotes.pdf
Thank them if they voted in favor; express disappointment if they didn't. You can use this toll-free number to be connected to the Capitol Switchboard: 1-888-245-0215.
Fortunately, you won't be alone in supporting reform. Plenty of the town hall meetings held by lawmakers have been friendly, calm affairs. At one recent meeting, a Republican Congressman even told the crowd that he was leaning towards voting for the health care reform legislation in the House!