As reform protestors swarm nearby streets, Beth Morris sits in a red, double decker bus and draws parallels between the controversial health care legislation proposed by President Barack Obama and the medical system in the U.K. — one which, she says, left her sick and without care for more than half a decade.
Beth and her husband Jon Morris bought the bus — Routemaster No. 390, which formerly ran from Notting Hill Gate to Hyde Park Corner in London — in 2004, shortly before they came to the United States to treat Beth’s condition, which caused her “excruciating” abdominal pain.
The U.K. resident, who had experienced the malady for six years after British doctors diagnosed her with “a spot of arthritis” and told her the only option was a lifetime subscription to painkillers, was merely in need of a colonoscopy.
And when she came to the states for a second opinion, she was diagnosed with bowel problems.
“Two days later my problem was gone forever,” she says from one of the bus’ bench seats in her faint British accent.
The Morris’s, whose three children study in the Fort Collins area, one at Fort Collins High School and two at CSU, attribute the hardships of Beth’s ordeal to the government-run health care system in England.
Beth says the system, which allows for a limited amount of time and money to be allocated to each patient, causes the doctors with thin resources to skim over what might be the real problem.
“My doctors in the U.K. are great, but their hands are tied,” Beth says.
And, while the Obama administration is pushing the reform in what they are calling “Town Hall Meetings” across the country, the protesters who marched Saturday afternoon say Obama’s plan will bring similar problems to this country.
Kelly Carnal, the chair of the College Republicans at CSU, said voters should research universal health care, and while she said the system is in need of some reform, Obama’s plan — a 1,000 page bill coined “Obama-care” by right-wing pundits — is being rushed too quickly through the U.S. legislature.
“It’s not our grandparents’ debt; it’s not our parents’ debt; it’s our debt. This is something we’ll be paying off for the rest of our lives,” Carnal said of the measure’s potential effect on students.
In the last month, local members of the GOP have thrown their hats into the health care debate, ramping up the intensity of their arguments at the town hall meetings by berating Obama representatives under the direction of grassroots, right-wing organizations.
But long-time activists and local organizers say that under the current health industry, which relies on private insurance providers to pay for patients’ needs, many are left sick and, in some cases, dying.
Steve Slanton, a Fort Collins activist who said he has protested in favor of health care reform on the corner of College Avenue and Mulberry Street every Saturday for the last nine years, said the current system favors only those on the top tier of the financial ladder.
“If you’re wealthy, you can have health care,” Slanton said. “If you’re poor, it’s your fault, and you die.”
Protestors snaked through downtown Fort Collins Saturday from where the Morris’s bus was parked on the corner of College Avenue and Mulberry Street to U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey’s office on north College, where they placed letters of grievance about the reform on her doorstep.
Markey, a District 4 Democrat who held a health care rally on the Lory Student Center Plaza Tuesday, has been holding similar gatherings around the state. Markey has not officially placed support behind Obama’s plan. Markey officials were not available for comment over the weekend.
The policy being pushed by the Obama administration focuses on providing health care for every American. According to Obama’s health care platform, which can be found on www.barackobama.com, the reform bill will spotlight the following areas:
Preventative health care
Better nutrition, and
Electronic health records
The Morris’s say the United States should not implement a universal health care plan.
“If you’re sick, you’re sick, and you can’t have your heath care run out at an arbitrary point,” Jon Morris says from the bus bench, adding later that, “People come here to be healed.”
Staff writer Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.