As a local organizer of Single Payer Michigan, Chris Silva led a rally Saturday outside the Federal Building to build support for a single-payer national health system and dispel what he considers half-truths.
“(Opponents) kind of think what we’re talking about is socializing medicine, rationing healthcare, but that’s simply not true,” he said.
“We’re taking the best of both worlds: public funding … private delivery. ”
The rally, one of 50 planned nationwide, brought dozens, some from as far away as Detroit, but not all bought Silva’s message. As many as five groups showed up to support or protest a single-payer system, which supporters say would save $400 billion a year if for-profit health insurers are taken out of the equation — and everyone would have health care.
Across Michigan Street NW, The Tea Party of West Michigan said the idea of the federal government managing health care would be a disaster.
“I don’t think our founding fathers would ever dream this would fall under the umbrella of the federal government,” organizer Mark Petzold said.
President Barack Obama is working with insurers and medical groups in an effort to bring health insurance to all Americans.
John Gritter, a registered nurse at Lakeland HealthCare in St. Joseph, said the health-care system is in crisis, with patients delaying care until they require expensive emergency-room treatment, or going bankrupt if they require extended medical treatment. Hospitals are forced to write off unpaid bills, putting them at risk of financial collapse, which hurts everyone, he said.
The down poor economy has only made the situation worse.
“This is the real deal. It’s not hypothetical, it’s actual,” Gritter said.