SOLANA BEACH — Slightly more than 30 people gathered at lunchtime July 16 in front of Congressman Brian Bilbray’s Solana Beach office to show support for President Barack Obama’s health-care reforms.
Claire McGreal, the regional field volunteer for Organizing for America who coordinated the event, described it as a “nonpartisan visibility rally.”
“We are trying to raise everyone’s awareness about the need for a public option plan that would provide insurance for those that can’t afford it, those who have pre-existing conditions or those with no access to health care,” McGreal said. “This is not a picket or a protest.”
Holding signs with messages such as “Health Care Yes, Insurance No” and “Honk if You Support Public Option,” the group waved to passers-by for about 90 minutes, at times chanting, “We will not give up the fight — Health care is a human right.”
Roberta Frank of Encinitas said she was there because she wants a public health-care option. “A single-payer option is something that’s intelligent for the public,” she said. “We need to get the profit making out of it.”
A small-business owner, Frank said she provides her employees with insurance, but they are not getting adequate service. “It’s a continuous struggle to get coverage they deserve and can afford,” she said. “The system changes at a whim and the employees are the ones who suffer.”
Jerry Ollinger said he has a good health insurance plan, but he came from Mira Mesa to help those who don’t. “I believe in single-payer universal health care,” he said. “I have friends that don’t go to the doctor when they should because they feel they can’t afford it.”
Del Mar resident Anthony Corso was unconscious in a French hospital for 74 days after being involved in a car accident while visiting that country. He said that’s when he learned his Medicare coverage wasn’t valid outside of the United States.
“I’m here to let older people know that once they leave this country, they no longer have insurance if Medicare is their only provider,” Corso said. “Our medical system is too complicated. I know everything can’t be resolved at one time, but something must be done for those who don’t have insurance.”
When Norah Schwartz of San Diego was diagnosed with breast cancer she was covered by temporary insurance. When that ran out this past January, she said she was denied coverage. “I’m not seeing the doctor as regularly as I should,” she said.
“My biggest fear as an American is not having health care,” Carlsbad resident Madeleine Falco said.
McGreal said Stevens Street, where Bilbray’s office is located, wouldn’t have been her first choice for the event since the goal of the rally was to raise awareness about health-care reform. “It’s not a great location for visibility,” she said. But McGreal insisted her group wasn’t trying to negatively impact the congressman. She said similar rallies were held near the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
A senior legislative assistant from Bilbray’s office said there was no message of negativity. “Americans are passionate about the health-care debate,” Robert Boland said. “These types of rallies are understandable.”