Supporters of expanded government-subsidized health care celebrated passage of the health-care reform bill with a rally Monday to express thanks to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who voted for the legislation.
The rally, sponsored by the Jobs With Justice coalition of labor, social justice, and faith groups, drew about 200 people to the parking lot of One Maritime Plaza in downtown Toledo where Miss Kaptur has her offices.
"We won," said Dr. Johnathon Ross, a physician and longstanding advocate for universal health care. "Maybe not the whole loaf, some would argue a quarter, a half. I'm not going to quibble. There's a lot of people who are not going to die, a lot of people who are not going to suffer, a lot of people who are not going to go bankrupt because of what our leadership … accomplished."
The bill, predicted to cost $940 billion over 10 years and backed by President Obama and Democrats in both houses of Congress, among other things requires adults to buy insurance, provides subsidies to people in low-income and middle-income categories, and sets regulations to prohibit insurers from denying coverage.
"Thank you, Marcy, for the vote but we need to be there to help make additional votes to make this a better country," Dr. Ross said.
Speakers, who spoke from a podium set up on a flatbed trailer, included a small-business owner, a student, one other doctor, two clergy members, and Doni Miller, executive director of the Neighborhood Health Association.
Ms. Miller said she never expected to see "health care for all" enacted in her lifetime. She said the bill allocates $11 billion to community health-care centers over the next five years.
Brian Johns, owner of a heating and air conditioning business, said rising costs of insurance have forced him to reduce his employees' health coverage to catastrophic coverage only. He said the bill will provide a 35 percent subsidy to his business this year and a 50-percent subsidy in 2014.
He brought two bouquets of flowers - one for Miss Kaptur and one for Karen Krause, who spearheaded the Jobs With Justice campaign for the bill's passage.
"This health-care bill is going to help me immensely," he said.
According to the law, businesses with fewer than 25 employees earning an average of no more than $50,000 can claim a tax credit on a sliding scale of up to 35 percent of the cost of insurance.
Miss Kaptur was in the district but did not attend the event.
Kate Byrne, a legislative aide, read a statement from Miss Kaptur saying that, regardless of what people might have heard, the bill relies on the market to help bring down health-care costs.
"You are here to celebrate progress in moving our nation forward, not backward," the Miss Kaptur's statement read.
The rally also attracted about 15 dissenters.
"We've been trying to meet and talk to Miss Kaptur since August," said Scott Allegrini, a founder of the Sylvania-based group Children of Liberty. "I thought she'd be here at a thank-you rally. That's why we came down. A lot of her constituents are not happy with this bill she helped pass."
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