Wichita, Kansas -- Progressive activists concerned about health care reform gathered in Wichita, Kansas Saturday.
The rally was in response to Brenda Landwehr and Mary Pilcher Cook's proposed legislation to opt Kansas out of any eventual public insurance option.
"We didn't expect so many people to come out, especially in the cold, but Kansans need health care now. Over 58,000 children in Kansas are uninsured and about 60 percent of Americans want a public option," organizer Levi Henry said. "It’s great to see so many of those people represented here today."
Many of the demonstrators drove to Wichita from cities all over Kansas. Colin Curtis, of Manhattan made the trip because he wanted to ensure his side was represented in the debate, "We heard the right-wing was going to show up, there was even a rumor that Koch Industries was going to bus people in, who knows, but our side was overwhelming. We were strong, loud, and came ready to fight for health care."
Chad Manspeaker from Laborers Local 1290 drove down to the event because he felt the Landwehr/Pilcher-Cook Amendment hurts working Kansans. "Preventing people from having health care is criminal. Health care is a right, and we deserve to have our fair share of tax dollars coming back to our state."
"The rally last month in Shawnee targeting Mary Pilcher-Cook was so successful we were energized to do it again down here," said Sarah Burris editor of the progressive blog Forward Kansas.
Burris said the members of the blog used online media tools to promote the event but were concerned to spread news of the forum too far given the response they received from conservatives that were bussed into the Shawnee rally in November.
"There was a pretty loud opposition in Shawnee that almost turned violent, so we wanted to try and avoid that this time," Burris said. "The teabaggers aren't known to be civilized."
Rep. Nile Dillmore, Ranking Democrat, Insurance Committee, Kansas House of Representatives singled out Rep Brenda Landwher and her Amendment saying “The sponsors of the Health Care Freedom Amendment are ideological and politically motivated individuals who are on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of their constituents economic and social interests.”
Other speakers included:
Rep. Geraldine Flaherty, Ranking Democrat, Health & Human Services Committee, Kansas House of Representatives
Rep. Delia Garcia, Ranking Democrat, Local Government Committee, Kansas House of Representatives
Dr. Tom Kluzak, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)
Dr. Leslie Page, OB/Gyn
Deborah Ballard-Reisch, Fellow at the Kansas Health Foundation
Editor, Sarah Burris
Videos, photos, and more will be available at www.forwardkansas.com after the rally.