Labor, civic activists rally for health care


"Cut the red tape," shouted some 300 labor union and community group activists who rallied at Preston Gardens downtown yesterday to press their demand for a national health care system.

Later, the ralliers marched a block north to the offices of the state insurance commissioner at 501 St. Paul Place, where they wrapped the pillars with red tape, then cut it with shears to symbolize inequities and inefficiencies of the present private health insurance system.

"Millions of Americans are mired in the insurance quagmire," and some 37 million persons are without any health insurance, said Janelle Cousino, executive director of Maryland Citizen Action Coalition.

Karin Allen of Baltimore told how the insurance company raised her small group's rate 70 percent after she had expensive back surgery three years ago. The group now plans to drop insurance and individuals will be on their own to find coverage, she said.

"As citizens, we can no longer afford the private health insurers -- it's time for a change," declared Robert Moore, president of District 1199E-DC, Service Employees International Union, which represents hospital and nursing home workers.

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