|AFSCME members declaring the Ritz-Carlton a crime scene.|
|AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd: “It takes the average worker 212 years to earn what the average CEO makes in a year. What do you call that? GREED.”|
|AFSCME President Gerald McEntee to Congress: “You better take our side before we arrest you!”|
The boisterous, energetic, diverse crowd marched from the AFL-CIO and AFSCME buildings and DuPont Circle to the sound of beating drums and shouted slogans like, “Blocking health care is a crime” and “Health care can’t wait.” The crowd was so large, it completely encircled the block-long Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the front group for the nation’s biggest insurance companies, the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is meeting. Health Care for America NOW ( HCAN) sponsored the rally and march. We live-tweeted the event  here.
Nicole Varma from Arlington, Va., who has no health care insurance because she is unemployed was among those taking part in the rally.
I am unable to get my medications because I can’t afford them. We need to send a message to the insurance companies that they definitely need to listen to the people. We don’t want insurance abuses. We want real health care reform.Workers repeatedly expressed how they struggle to afford health insurance, an ever-growing expense that is eating away at their ability to pay a mortgage or send children to college. Here’s George Estright, a member of AFSCME Local 2162 who traveled from Harrisburg, Pa., for today’s rally.
We support health care reform to control insurance company profits. It’s not right for working Americans to pay for 200 percent profits for insurance companies. We need something that is fair and equitable.AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid it on the line, telling the crowd:
The insurance companies won’t stop unless we stop them—and we do that by passing health care reform legislation.Marcus Grimes, a former English teacher from Virginia, says he lost his sight because he didn’t have health insurance o cover a $3,000 operation he needed. He told the crowd health care is the issue of this generation:
So today we’re here to put the insurance companies on notice: We will not allow you and your lobbyists to bully Congress into not acting. Not on health care or any of the issues important to America’s working families.
We are at the crux of our generation. This is our time. We ask you insurance companies. We ask you senators. We ask your representatives. What side of history do you want to be on? We should no more people dying…We stand as one. We walk softly, but we carry a big stick.The crowd placed a crime scene tape around the hotel and several leaders and victims of health insurance abuse delivered a “warrant” to the front of the hotel calling for the arrest of the insurance company executives.
Check out rally hotos from the Alliance for retired Americans  here.
 AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the crowd that Big Insurance “is devastating our families and they’ve been getting away with it for years. We’ve had enough.”
Listen up Congress. This is a life and death battle with the insurance companies. I’m here to tell everyone that justice will prevail. AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
Our health care system exists to insure people who need it, not to make profits for insurance companies. That’s why we need real health care reform.
Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG: http://blog.aflcio.org
URL to article: http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/03/09/thousands-tell-big-insurance-blocking-health-care-reform-is-a-crime/
URLs in this post:
 health care reform: http://www.aflcio.org/issues/healthcare
 HCAN: http://healthcareforamericanow.org/
 here: http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/03/09/live-march-and-rally-at-big-insurance-meeting/
 here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/retiredamericans/sets/72157623588143504/
 AFSCME: http://www.afscme.org
 AFT: http://www.aft.org