Group rallies in downtown Macon for health-care reform

About 40 people showed up Tuesday to rally at Rosa Parks Square in support of President Obama’s health-care plan.

It proved a stark contrast from a “tea party” rally held at the square last week, which drew about 300 people and several speakers protesting what is being termed “ObamaCare.” Tuesday’s 45-minute rally in downtown Macon was much more scaled-down.

It had two speakers, state Sen. Robert Brown, D-Macon, and Alise Marshall, regional coordinator for Organizing for America, a grass-roots project of the Democratic Party trying to get support for health-care reform.

Both speakers stressed that now is the time for change in the health-care system because there are about 2.7 million Georgians and 47 million Americans without health care. “We’ve been working two months to make sure this will happen,” Marshall told the crowd. “Every day, 14,000 Americans are losing their insurance.

“We cannot go another year with this happening.” Brown said that health-care issues have been discussed by every administration since President Richard Nixon, but so far, no one has done anything. “This is the first time we’ve got politicians who are doing what they promised to do,” he said. “All the big changes that have ever been initiated have been met by people who say ‘Wait, we’re moving too fast.’ ”

Brown told the crowd that the state loses nearly $9 billion per year in terms of productivity because workers are out sick.

People who attended the rally said changes needed to be made in the current health-care system.

Charles Chaffin, who sells insurance, said it’s difficult to recommend health-insurance plans to clients because of all of the problems in the current system.

“I’m here because we’ve simply got to get it done,” he said. “If not, we’re not going to have a country in 10 years. With escalating health-care costs, access is more limited every day.”

Denise Gary, a registered nurse who works at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, said she sees many patients who don’t get the proper care because many of the high costs aren’t covered by insurance.

“It’s leading to a crisis in the health-care situation,” she said. “People can’t afford to buy their medicine.”

Gary said other countries provide medical services for people without insurance, and America should be able to do the same thing.

“It might be delayed, but at least they are getting some kind of care,” she said. “I don’t know how it would work here, but we’re the greatest country in the world — I’m sure we can do it better.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.