Missouri Health Care for All, which has 109 endorsing organizations, held a press conference Thursday in St. Louis to raise the voices of its members in support of health care reform. Five community leaders spoke. Two of them in particular made memorable remarks.

Eric Friedman, who owns a small real estate agency, (pictured far left) averred that health care reform is about saving the country’s economy. More than half of those without health care either own small businesses or are employed at one. Small business owners are finding it nearly impossible, in the face of rising health care costs, to insure themselves or their employees because they are forced to pay an average of 18 percent more for the same coverage that big businesses pay. Friedman says that his insurance costs went up 20 percent per employee last year. How crazy is that when you consider that small businesses are the economic engine of this country?

Dr. Edward Lawler (in the right hand picture), Dean of the School of Social Work at Washington University, pointed out that when Medicare passed in 1965, the conventional wisdom was that we would have universal coverage by 1967.

Not quite.

At that rate, it might take another forty years if we don’t get the job done this time around.

During the Q & A, one media person tried several times to get the group to commit itself to what its minimum standards would be for support of the health care legislation, but the panelists weren’t biting. They want affordable care for all Missourians, but weren’t willing to say what the bill had to be.

They must have had their reasons, but I’m not shy. If we don’t get a public option to pull down the costs of health care, we’ll be mandating that people get–increasingly expensive!–health care policies.

Also notable during the Q & A was that a young man (holding the camera in the pic) asked questions critical of the legislation. He started by upbraiding the group for using the term “teabagger”, saying that the term is offensive. I assume that teabaggers found out only after they started identifying themselves as such that the term had a sexual connotation. Whatever. They’ve now decided to be offended by the consequences of their own mistake. I, for one, intend to be politically incorrect on this one. People who use the brownshirt tactics I’ve been seeing this summer do not deserve the consideration of another term, even if they had provided us with one.

Anyway, the man didn’t get to ask much because Amy Blouin, the moderator, specified that, since it was a press conference, she was there to take questions from the media. I’d be less contemptuous of teabaggers if they made a habit of behaving like this man. He didn’t yell or interrupt anyone. He raised his hand and spoke when he was called on. Just like a civilized person. It was refreshing.