With the president wanting Congress to approve his health care reform proposals by the end of the year, thousands of Oklahomans rallied on both sides of the issue in a steady rain Sunday outside the state Capitol.
Opponents, who attended a so-called tea party made up of people also opposed to higher taxes and what they say is out-of-control government spending, clearly outnumbered supporters in two separate rallies.
A crowd estimated at 5,500 gathered Sunday afternoon on the north steps of the Capitol for an event sponsored by the Oklahoma City Tea Party. About 300 gathered about four hours earlier on the Capitol’s south steps organized by Change Oklahoma, a group made up of many who supported the president’s campaign.
Both sides wanted to show their congressional delegation how they felt on the health care reforms that are of President Barack Obama’s key campaign promises to provide health care to an estimated 47 million Americans who have no medical coverage.
Amber Harrington of Oklahoma City attended the tea party rally and carried a sign reading, “Obama’s real achievements – deceiving the people, mocking the Lord’s word, disgracing our veterans, washing tax dollars.”
She said she’s also unhappy with plans by Obama and mostly Democrats in Congress to change the health care system.
“They are now trying to control what kind of treatment we get,” Harrington said.
Harrington said she doesn’t have health care insurance, but can get treated at a nearby clinic often for $25.
“I want to have the freedom of being able to choose what’s right for me,” she said.
David Perry of Norman was at the rally supporting health care reforms, including a public option.
An owner of a computer business, Perry said he can’t afford health insurance.
“I’ve tried to buy it for two years, I finally threw my hands in and said, ‘Too expensive,’” he said.
Even if he could afford insurance, he said several self-employed friends have told him it’s difficult to get insurance companies to pay claims.
“When it comes time to need the coverage, it’s not there,” Perry said. “We need some sort of public option to keep them (insurance companies) honest.”
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau