Joel Goolst of Columbia had a heart transplant 4 1/2 years ago. must take a variety of expensive drugs to keep his body from rejecting the heart, but his health maintenance organization pays only $4,000 of the bill each year.
"Because of that, I have to pay $10,000 to $12,000 every year just to stay alive," he said. Goolst was one of several speakers yesterday at a downtown rally where union members and community activists called for a national health insurance program.
"We are sick and tired of being the only people in the industrial world who cannot depend on health care if we need it." said Robert Moore, president of 1193-D.C., a hospital workers union.
The rally of about 300 people at the park in the 300 and 400 block of St. Paul Place was one of many held across the country as part of "National Health Care Action Week," which was organized by Jobs With Justice, a coalition of labor and community groups.
The crowd marched to 501 St. Paul Place, the headquarters of the Department of Licensing and Regulation, which includes the state Insurance Division. They chanted "Health care now!"
The increasing cost of medical care has become a national political issue. About 37 million Americans are without health insurance. In Maryland, more than half a million are uninsured.
A recent U.S. General Accounting Office study judged Canada's national health system as successful in controlling costs while providing health care to everyone. But some have criticized the Canadian system for delays.