Dying for health care, suburbanites sit in to "get it done!"


WILLOWBROOK, Ill. - Sixty-eight Americans die prematurely every day because they can't get access to health care coverage. This crisis prompted 35 residents of Rep. Judy Biggert's, R-Ill., district to take action and sit in at her office to demand she support health care reform.

"In the last 15 years 11,000 Illinoisans have died because we don't have health care reform," said Jonathan VanderBrug, Health Care Justice coordinator for the Campaign for Better Health Care. "Enough playing politics. Stop stalling. Get it done. This is a matter of life and death."

Altogether, over 294,000 Americans died prematurely since 1994, when the health insurance corporations blocked the last major effort for health care reform. Residents are determined to make sure reform legislation passes Congress this year.

The sit-in took place as it was announced the top five health insurers set record profits, a combined $12.2 billion for 2009, up 56% from the year before. Meanwhile the industry shed 2.7 million people from health care plans.

Biggert has been voting in lockstep with the Republicans, said VanderBrug, obstructing reform. She had refused to meet with CBHC and her constituents since August despite repeated calls, infuriating many.

"I can't believe Congressman Biggert would play politics while people are dying," said Michael Sacco. "I didn't put her in office for her to play politics. Don't let us down."

Constituents left behind a pile of empty shoes representing people who have died because they didn't have access to health care.

"One shoe is for a friend who passed away. He had cancer and didn't have health insurance. And the other shoe is for my mother. She has a pre-existing condition and I can't get health insurance for her. We should be a country that cares about each other," said one constituent.

"Eight years ago I was diagnosed with AIDS. But my insurance wouldn't cover the costs of my medical treatment causing me to go into bankruptcy," explained another constituent. "I get medical care through the Ryan White Care Act (a federal-state funded program). With the economic crisis I can lose that and there is a strong probability I will be dead in 6 months. Remember me every time you see my shoes."

Mass joblessness is stressing states like Illinois who must spend more money on Medicaid, the only lifeline for those who are jobless without health care coverage. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $87 billion in increased funding for Medicaid to fiscally hard strapped states. Biggert voted against the Act.

However this money is due to run out Dec. 31, 2010. An extension of the Medicaid assistance is contained in health care reform (HR3200) and the Jobs for Main Street Act passed by the House of Representatives. A similar measure has yet to pass the Senate.

Biggert voted no again.

The protesters left peacefully about an hour after they arrived when the building management called the police. "Unless you were invited you will have to leave. This is our building and you are not invited," said the manager.

Before she left Biggert's office, Eva left a pair of shoes. She explained they represented those who still had a voice and would speak up for health care reform. "We're going to be back until this situation is resolved," she said.

Photo: John Bachtell/PW

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  • Don't need the government to provide health care, we need the government to make sound trade policies that will strengthen our economy, putting Americans to work. Being income earners will give Americans consumer power. Allowing them to choose what they want to spend their earnings on.

    Posted by odd1, 02/26/2010 1:06am (6 years ago)

  • The ignorance of the teabaggers is astonding . Most of these people have never been outside this country or experienced anything other what we have now. Just uneducated dupes of the insurance companies. Yea people all over the world are dying in droves because of universal healthcare,, Germany, The UK, Canada, Finland , Sweden all have massive deaths! LOL If ignorance is bliss the teabaggers must be the most blissful people on earth.

    Posted by Red Grandad, 02/25/2010 4:52pm (6 years ago)

  • How many people will die under government healthcare? Take a look at the statistics for other countries where the government controls healthcare. Healthcare Reform Yes! Government run No!

    Posted by Beth, 02/25/2010 3:43pm (6 years ago)

  • Donate the shoes left to a homeless shelter!
    The Dems plan will not cover more people and keep cost down! Look into the dozens of plans that the GOP has tried to get to the floor that will cover more people without mandates and will get the costs down. Tort reform is a huge thing, but the Dems want to hear none of it. The dems keep asking where the GOPs plans are. They've been out there for over a year but the dems refuse to let them be heard.
    Here's a basic question, how many of those people that do not have health care DO have large wide screen tv's, cell phones, cable tv subscriptions, expensive cars plus other stuff that is not necessary but refuse to pay for (take responsibility for) health care? Another question, where in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence does it state that health care insurance is a right? Last I heard it stated; life, liberty and pursuit of happiness...

    Posted by Lilly, 02/25/2010 3:08pm (6 years ago)

  • Wow, I love Judy Biggert. She's my rep and she's been right on target to help those people. She is calling for action that will not only help them but stop the socialist agena Obama and the democrats are on because if they get THEIR plan passed, none of this will matter. Our country is holding the highest debt in history. We are not just going to pay higher taxes but many of us who have never been poor will find ourselves among the 'new poor'. Obama's plan relies on a good economy that sticks with ridiculous high tax rates that the job builders cannot pay. Down goes the ecnomy, down goes the amount of money for healthcare coming in, and down goes all the care to everyone. Biggert had a plan and tried showing it to congress, to us. Did you see it? Take a look at Greece and Spain because that's where we are headed unless we vote out the socialists and move on toward actually making health care more affordable.

    Posted by Lexi, 02/25/2010 2:34pm (6 years ago)

  • Great piece! Without health care nothing else matters. I hope to see actions like this all over America

    Posted by Red Grandad, 02/25/2010 1:16pm (6 years ago)

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