John Dingell — September 5, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Rep. Dingell: “No public option = handout to insurance companies”


Today, at an Organizing for America (OFA)-sponsored event, U.S. Representative John Dingell was presented with over 4,000 health care declarations supporting President Obama’s three principles of health care reform. It was a great event with over 250 supporters in attendance and only one anti-reform protester who walked up and down the road in front of the building with a sign reading “Abortion is not health care.”

In his comments, Rep. Dingell pledged his strong support of public option in the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress. At this public meeting, he equated mandated health care coverage without a public option to a giant handout out to the health insurance industry.

Rep. John Dingell holds up 4,000+ health
care declarations presented by OFA

The event today was billed as a Send Off Event With Congressman John Dingell by OFA organizers. It had originally been scheduled for LAST weekend but Rep. Dingell was forced to cancel due to the death and funeral of Senator Kennedy. Then, yesterday, OFA sent out a statewide announcement of today’s event with the wrong time on it. Despite these glitches, over 250 packed the Ann Arbor Community Center to show their support for Rep. Dingell and for health care reform.

Over 250 health care reform supporters at send-off event for Rep. John Dingell

John Dingell is the longest-serving person in Congress today so his words bring some gravitas to the debate that other Representatives’ words do not. Carrying the torch first picked up by his father, Rep. Dingell has introduced a single-payer, universal health care bill every session of Congress. Even today he has a single-payer billin committee that will never see the light of day.

Before he was introduced today, several other got up to speak including Chris Wolff, Regional Field Director for OFA, Garrett Arwa, OFA State Field Director, and Tad Wysor, OFA Volunteer Leader/Organizer from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Besides these three, Rebecca York stood up to tell her story of living with and without health care coverage while dealing with a complicated pregnancy. In the process she and her husband have spent all of their savings paying for out of pocket for everything from prenatal care to the delivery of her baby itself. Although she has finally received a job offer that will give her family coverage in the past week, prior to this she has been confronted with a decision to either take a job that would pay the mortgage but make her baby ineligible for government-funded health care or refuse the job and then face losing her home to foreclosure.

Rebecca York tells her story

When Rep. Dingell spoke, he covered many of the issues relating to the pending legislation including his own desire for a single-payer system. However, he understands that HR3200 is our only reasonable opportunity to get health care reform passed now. But he was unequivocal:


“Let me tell you about the public option: the public option is ESSENTIAL! Without the public option what you have is 47 million more people being added to the marketplace whom the health insurance industry can take at whatever price they want. It’s a wonderful way to drum up business for the health care insurance companies.”

Other quotes:

“A small business owner faces an 18% adverse differential when purchasing health care coverage for his or her employees. This bill will end this.”

“I promise you this: there will be no health insurance lobbyists or bureaucrats that will come between you and your doctor.”

“I’ve said it will be budget-neutral and it WILL be. Also, people with incomes up to 400% of the poverty level will get a government subsidy because if we’re mandating coverage, you need to help those who can’t afford it.”

He also spoke of how the legislation is supported by nurses, the American Medical Association (AMA) and all the specialty professions within the AMA. Additionally, it is supported by all of the major health advocacy groups like the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heat Association.

He ended his talk with a promise to Rebecca York. Turning to her, he said:

“Rebecca, as long as there is a breath in the body of this old Pollack, we’re going to take care of you.”

From your mouth to God’s ears, Rep. Dingell. Godspeed.

Rep. Dingell speaks with the York family after the event

Health care reform supporters show their support to
passing cars after the event next to an anti-reform protester

I’m just sayin’…

All pictures by Anne Savage. Visit her website at Revolutionary Views, her blog Glimpse and her Flickr page.