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Amy Smoucha, of Missouri Jobs with Justice, says that getting health care reform passed is like an election. We have to throw everything we’ve got at it.


Keep writing letters to the editor, and don’t neglect the small newspapers, like the Kirkwood Times and the various Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area. Flood those publications with your thoughts.

Check out Missouri Health Care for All, a coalition of 110 organizations working on the issue. One of their projects is collecting health care stories–and not just the horror stories, though they want those too. (Speaking of them, did you see that Crystal Lee Sutton, the real life “Norma Rae”, died of cancer because her health insurance company refused to pay for necessary medication. Sally Field, who played the movie role said, “It is almost like, in a way, committing murder.”) But back to health care stories besides just the horror stories: the website wants stories from middle income people who are struggling to pay for the coverage they’ve got; from small business owners who complain their their premiums have doubled over a few years; and from pastors talking about the moral obligation we have to care for each other.

The purpose of collecting these stories is to have a stock of them ready. Recently a legislator wanted a small business person to talk to a news outlet about how difficult it is to get insurance coverage for employees. Missouri Health Care for All had someone who could feed that story to the publication. So go tell your own story.

Smoucha stressed “visibility, visibility, visibility”. Signs are one way to be visible. Lots of people are on the fence about this, and seeing a sign in your yard might just tip someone in our direction. You can order a sign here and give HCAN a little love at the same time.

Instead of visibility, you might go for audibility: Call. Yeah, yeah, I know you already did that. But when was the last time? The staunchest progressives, like Emanuel Cleaver and Lacy Clay, need to be thanked. Other supporters of reform need to be kept in our camp. McCaskill, especially, with her desire that the public option be “handcuffed”, needs to be inundated with calls. All through August she was saturated with right wing callers. Trust me; they didn’t limit themselves to one call and maybe not to one call a day. Think of our calls to her as part of a deadly serious tug of war, with teabaggers on the other side. Grab the rope.

And Smoucha even recommends calling Bond. No, he isn’t going to vote for health care reform, but we should treat him as a movable vote–for this reason: the more constant the pressure we keep on him, the less emboldened he will be about filibustering it. Right now, he has been given dutch courage by all the tea party apoplexy. He would identify with that purple faced, vein popping anger. We need to let him know that we have the numbers.

Hell, we need to let the public know that we have the numbers. Enough with this “silent majority” nonsense. It’s time to demonstrate. Opportunities will abound this next month. Seize them. Here are three in the St. Louis area:

Reform supporters gather every Friday in Kirkwood. Here’s a notice they sent:

A group of supporters of health care for all will be demonstrating each Friday in front of Kirkwood City Hall. That’s on Lindbergh Blvd which is called Kirkwood Rd at that point and next to the RR tracks. You can park behind city hall. Franklin McCallie has a load of really great signs, and about 20-25 people show up each time. See below for the schedule. They alternate lunch hour and rush hour every other Friday. For the most part, drivers honk and give the thumbs up to show their approval of our message. This reflects the national polls that say the majority of Americans want REAL health care/insurance reform.

For this coming Friday (18 Sep) we will be there from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For the next Friday (25 Sep) we will demonstrate from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Also in Kirkwood, OFA is recruiting volunteers to work the Greentree Festival this Saturday, the 19th from 1:00-4:00. Sign up here.

And the biggest one: A demonstration Tuesday, Sept. 22 at noon across from Union Station, in front of the WellPoint offices. Last May, Clark wrote here that WellPoint controls the market in five Missouri cities:

In Columbia, it has 85 percent of the market.

In Jefferson City, 77 percent.

In Joplin, 94 percent.

In Springfield, 68 percent.

In St. Louis, 67 percent.

Let’s challenge that near monopoly. If you live in St. Louis, finagle an extra long lunch hour and show up. I’ll have more details as the time approaches.

As demonstrations are announced, post them here, in the diary section in the right hand column.

We’ve got to be out on the streets for the motorists to honk at. We’ve got to be talking to our neighbors.

And we’ve got to financially support the organizations that grubbing and sweating to make progress on our issues in between elections–not just health care, but all progressive issues. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to broaden the “free speech” limitations on corporations in elections. If that happens, the only way we’ll have to fight back is to organize, organize, organize. Give money to Jobs with Justice (check out the Kansas City and St. Louis groups), the Missouri Budget Project, ACORN, and any other group that is toiling year round on social justice issues.