Universal Health Care Advocacy Group Readying for Local Rally – First Maryland Speakout

[…] At Birdie’s Cafe in Westminster Friday, three members of Carroll County’s chapter of Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland and statewide organizer Sergio España told of the formation of the grassroots campaign locally. They told of their excitement for the state’s first speakout — a rally to share health-care stories — which will be held in Carroll County on Saturday.

They spoke passionately about making health care a public good.

“No one should not have health care,” group member Frank Reitemeyer said. “For me, that’s the biggest thing, and it’s getting to the point where it’s unaffordable for everybody, and we’re all suffering because of it.”

So it’s time to take action, to take care of family, friends and neighbors who might be uninsured, he said. […]

[Universal health care] works like this: Health care would be publicly funded and treated like a public good, such as education. No one would have to pay when they go see a doctor, as it would be funded through taxpayer dollars, according to the group.

The campaign is looking to Vermont as an example, which became the first state to pass a publicly funded health-care system in 2011. Under the law, the state will set up a universal health-care system for all residents, likely by 2017, according to Through banding together, Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland — which has chapters in Howard, Montgomery, Baltimore and Frederick counties — strives to set up a similar system, according to España.

“Everybody quietly knows that something’s wrong with our health-care system,” he said, “but how do we connect with each other?”

The Carroll chapter hopes to make those connections locally — and to put a face on the uninsured and others burdened by the cost of medical bills, group member Sandy Wright said.

It’s an expense that can be a struggle, she said. She’s not only read about it but watched the frustration firsthand. Wright and her husband pay for her daughter and grandson’s insurance to help them out.

“We’re not going to live forever,” Wright said, “so we need to get [universal health care] set up so she can get insured.”

The campaign officially kicked off statewide in December, and members are in the midst of collecting surveys from state residents. Questions include asking an individual if they’ve had to forgo medical care because of costs and if they’ve ever had an issue receiving the care they need.

The group also aims to foster dialogue on the issue throughout the state this year, according to España. […]

The transition to universal health care in the state won’t be immediate, group member Becky Powel said, but it’s a cause she’s willing to fight for.

For Reitemeyer, it comes down to morality.

“Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean that you are allowed to be healthy,” he said, “and that the guy who’s busting his butt with two or three jobs or the woman who’s doing that can’t afford to have their children raised with good health care. It’s just — it’s immoral. That’s the whole point of the campaign.”