By Nathan Jackson "Romney and Ryan look at Medicare and Medicaid as a bunch of numbers waiting to be cut down, " said Carol Green, a healthcare worker and SEIU 1199NW member. "My patients aren't numbers. I'm not a number. We're not numbers. We're people who just want what was promised."
Green stood in front of Swedish Hospital, wearing her scrubs, speaking to the 99% who had gathered to stand up for affordable healthcare.
"My patients don't know how they are going to pay their bills," she said. "If McKenna and the rest of them gut Medicaid my patients will literally have to choose between food or medicine."
More than a hundred of the 99% had gathered in the hot August sun to protest the McKenna agenda--which includes making Medicaid and Medicare more expensive for the folks who can least afford it.
Attorney General Rob McKenna in an Op/Ed published less than two months ago wrote that he would support and advocate for Medicaid patients to pay more--patients who are economically the weakest amongst us. Meanwhile he wants to make it harder to close corporate tax loopholes and has opposed proposals to make sure the top 1% pay their fair share.
So he wants the poor and working folks to pay more for their healthcare while standing by and not doing anything to make sure the rich pay their fair share? It doesn’t make sense.
Mila Dolan is on Medicare. She uses a mobilized chair to get around and she grabbed the microphone. She had a few notes with her, but she didn’t even need them.
"I don't have much to say," she said. "I just want to tell you all that I rely on Medicare to stay alive."
Mila paused and looked around at the crowd.
"I have to see a doctor at least once a month," she said. "If we let these guys get away with stripping Medicare I might not make it. Have they ever had to choose between medicine and bread? If they get their way I’ll have to make that choice every day. It’s not right and we have to stop it.”
Khoa Nguyen, a student, was the MC of the event. He spoke to the crowd occasionally looking at his prepared notes on his phone.
“We’re gathered here today because today is the day that Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination,” he said. “Today the 1% are in Tampa celebrating their dream. But to the rest of us their 1% agenda is a nightmare.”
He paused scrolling down on his notes.
“This isn’t about this party or that party,” he said. “This is about what is right for the 99%. We need elected officials who will fight for good jobs, quality, affordable healthcare and the rights of workers to get together to make changes.”
Cars honked in support and we pressed in closer as he continued.
“Their agenda is more of the same,” he said. “The rich get richer and the working people get nothing. We’re here to say ‘No to the Romney Economy, No to the Ryan Budget and No to the McKenna Agenda. Let’s go down to Attorney General McKenna’s office...right now.”
He directed us on our march from First Hill to the International District where Attorney General Rob McKenna has his campaign office. All the way through downtown folks looked on many throwing us a thumbs up or cheering as we chanted “We don’t want a Romney Economy!” or “Healthcare Cuts? Hell no!”
We arrived in Hing Hay park right across the street from McKenna’s office and RJ Williams walking with his signature cane stood up to speak to us.
“I just don’t get it. We are not out here trying to get some hand out or charity,” he said. “We just want what was promised us. We’ve paid into a system that was promised to be there for us when we needed it. We need it right now, today.”
He shook his head.
“It’s like they’ve forgotten what was promised,” he said. “I’m struggling to make it right now. I’m in the throws of cancer and this guy wants me to somehow dig up an extra 700 dollars? He wants people on Medicaid and Medicare to somehow scramble up more money? If I had that kind of money laying around I would have flown to Mexico and gotten treatment for free. We’ve worked hard for our Medicare and Medicaid. It’s not theirs to dangle around. It’s ours.”