It was a small, almost muted demonstration in front of the Flagler County Health Department at high noon Tuesday: a core group of just 12 people, later joined by several more, showed their support for the health care law whose central provision—insurance availability for almost all—went into effect today.
They held up signs that celebrated what opponents have vilified as Obamacare (“Obamacare is awesome! By the People, For the People”). They had a little criticism for the health department, where federally supported navigators meant to help people get on the insurance rolls are prohibited (“No help here: go to healthcare.gov”). They spoke to a half dozen reporters and photographers from five local news organizations. And they clustered among themselves, chatting a lot about the new law and, since this was an event organized by the Flagler County Democratic Club, spoke contemptuously of opponents of the law and their representatives in D.C., whose uncompromising stance led to the first shutdown of the federal government in 17 years, beginning at midnight Tuesday, at the same instant that the new provisions of the Affordable Health Act kicked in.
There was no chanting, no taunting, and little interaction with traffic, since there was hardly any traffic. Several cars drove by the demonstrators to go into the parking lot of Flagler Pines, the assisted living facility, driving slowly, looking bemusedly at the unusual activity. A couple of delivery trucks drove by. The health department parking lot was mostly empty: very few people went in or out of the building during the hour-long demonstration.
Democratic Club President Merrill Shapiro organized the demonstration. Click on the image for larger view. When it was drawing to a close, Merrill Shapiro, who heads the local Democratic club, summed up the showing: “Some might say we’re small numbers compared to the tea party, but we’re big in our hearts, and we’re big in meaning and in understanding.
“Your speaking out saying ah, finally, poor people, people who have pre-existing conditions, people working part-time, all of them now can have access to health care, just like the wealthiest of us. That’s what’s such a good and wonderful thing, and that’s cause for celebration by every single American. We thank you. So numbers mean one thing, but our presence means something else, and it’s significant.”
Patrick Johnson, the department’s director, stayed put in the building. At the top of the hour he’d phoned Shapiro to tell him to remove his and others demonstrators’ cars from the parking lot (“it was not part of the agreement,” Johnson said), even though the lot was not much in use and demonstrators’ cars were few. Johnson caught a glimpse of the gathering group through the department’s front bay windows as he spoke to two reporters about Monday’s stories regarding a local health advisory, having little to say about the demonstrators outside. “People have their right to assemble. That’s what I see,” he said. “The story is out there.”
So it was, and not just on a grassy slip between the health department parking lot and Dr. Carter Boulevard in Bunnell.
“We’re here of course to support the roll-out,” Ralph Lightfoot, one of the demonstrators, said. “There hasn’t been a lot of community support for the program. I think eventually it’ll be a very good program. I think that’s what the Republicans are afraid of, that it may become successful like Social Security and Medicare. God forbid that we have a program that would help the poor person. You know, when you can get insurance for $100 a month, that’s just great. We have so many people, particularly here in Bunnell, who could use something like that, because as you know, any catastrophic illness can just about wipe you out financially. There’s a whole bunch of people who can attest to that. But there’s so much misunderstanding on the thing.”
Vivian Lindeolisson, a native of Belgium who’s been in the United States 40 years, and in Palm Coast eight, spoke about the time when going to Sweden for a two-week vacation and having a root canal and a crown taken care of over there was cheaper than it would have been in the United States. Root canals and crowns are not part of the coverage under the new health law, but the point she was making is that the United States is only now catching up to the modern world when it comes to civilized insurance coverage.
“My mother immigrated to France,” Lindeolisson said, “she just had a stroke, she still has her house, the third day she was in the hospital they started speech therapy, physical therapy, she went back to being totally functional. Eighty-six years old, no death squads.” Lindeolisson was referring to the so-called “death panels” tea party opponents of the health law claimed, falsely, were part of Obamacare. The false belief remains a potent pat of the mythology that contaminates opponents’ perspective on the law, making more rational debate on the issue more difficult.
Lindeolisson tried to bring her mother Stateside, but immigration rules have barred that, absent what she calls “unlimited wealth. “So I cannot take care of my mother. I have to do it over there.” As for herself: “I’m on Medicare since this year. Before that I paid $12,400 a year, just for me,” for coverage, “with a high deductible. So now, down to less than $200, I’m in paradise. I couldn’t wait to get old.” She has, in other words, some of the best insurance provided any group of people in the country. Why was she at the demonstration? “Because I have a son who’s 37 years old, he’s never had a chance to get insurance because he was born with a pre-existing condition, and he’s never been hospitalized. He could not get insurance. And I’m here for my grandchildren. I want them to have the same freedom as all the other industrialized countries in the world, where you don’t get bankrupt because somebody got into an accident or got sick.”
The demonstration was a first of sorts for the Democratic club. The location was not the best for visibility, but it had symbolic value, Shapiro said, acknowledging that his club has a long way to go before it could catch up to the sort of verve tea party activists can unleash on local streets: when the tea party mobilizes, its bands can cover long lengths of sidewalks like human locusts.
“There is no question that we envy the tea party,” Shapiro said, “not for their intellectual consistency or understanding, but rather for their organizational ability, and that they do have people who follow the party line, and who walk in lockstep with what the leadership of the tea party tells them to do—show up at Old Kings and Palm Coast Parkway, show up to this meeting show up there—they do it, and we envy them, and their ability to get out in the streets and create.”
Shapiro added: “There’s no question that they are superior and we can learn a lot from that, but their issues are wrong, their message is wrong, and we’re going to prove it over and over and over again. The world will prove it. The ultimate outcome of Obamacare will prove that they were wrong in opposing it. They were wrong in being uncompromising. What’s going on in Congress is another issue, but we feel that their inability, and the tea party in general, their inability to compromise. The Massachusetts delegation to the constitutional convention that ultimately brought out the constitution was very, very unhappy with slavery being in effect ensconced in the Constitution, and slaves being counted as what, three-fifth of a person, they’re very unhappy with that, they hated it, yet they recognized that to move forward they had to compromise some of their values and some of what they thought. So they signed the Constitution and they enabled the government to be formed here in the United States of America that has served us rather well for the past 230-some odd years. We need once again to return to people who are willing to compromise and say, in the spirit of compromise, I don’t get everything I want, the other guy doesn’t get everything he wants, somewhere in the middle we will meet and we’ll be both equally unhappy. That’s missing. That’s why the vilification of Obamacare in just nonsensical ways.”
Typical Republican strategies: Make it as difficult as possible for people to get the help they need and they will give up=problem solved. Make it as uncomfortable as possible for people to vote and maybe we’ll win the next election, since we can’t count on most people falling for our bullsh**t anymore=problem solved.
Ace Dead Eye Johnson says
Common libral democrat response……for me collage was difficult but I didn’t give up and our government didn’t give me a degree…starting my own buisness in Flagler County was difficult but I didn’t give up and our government didnt give it to me but I made it…..as for voting its easy….get in you car drive to your precinct show your ID and vote…..but it sounds like you want the government to do everything for you…..and thats what Obama wants……
@Ace Dead Eye Johnson says–My grandparents came from two different countries with nothing in their pockets and had a son who worked his way up from poverty to earn two Drs. degrees.Despite some obstacles, I managed to get through graduate school and devote my working life to Social Work, in part because I was taught that it was my responsibility to give back to others. I can assure you, many people work hard and get ahead without ending up looking down on others who might need a helping hand. As a former Social Worker, I can tell you that most people on assistance do not stay on it their entire lives, unless they have a severe and ongoing disability. They are not living high on the hog or having a good time. Many of these people are White–In fact, my experience was that my clients were of all ages, sexes and all the colors of the rainbow. Any of us can find ourselves in need of help at any time. None of us is immune to the vagaries of life. Good for you that you have a degree and a business–You should be proud of what you have achieved. Let’s hope you remain forever as fortunate.and that life does not throw curveballs at you that might require YOU to become dependent on the compassion and generosity of others…especially if you have the bad luck to fall on hard times while Republicans are in power.
Nancy N. says
“as for voting its easy….get in you car drive to your precinct show your ID and vote”
And here in lies what out of touch people like you don’t get.
1) You assume everyone has a car they can just hop into to drive wherever they want
2) You assume everyone has photo ID
Also, I’m wondering how you paid for that “collage” degree that you claim to have? I bet you had student aid, scholarships or government backed loans. But sure, you go on claiming that no one gave it to you if you want.
Ignorance is bliss!
Ace Dead Eye Johnson says
Lol….Low information voters at there best…….How can anyone agree with the government telling them….WHEN…WHERE and HOW you will spend your money on health care…..our slow move closer to socialism….
Nancy N. says
How can I agree with being told I have to buy health insurance? Because this law is making it possible for me to buy health insurance AT ALL. I’m one of the 15% of Americans who does not have health insurance, due to a pre-existing condition. Before the ACA, I could not purchase health insurance AT ANY PRICE. I have had health insurance sales agents literally hang up on me in mid-sentence – on multiple occasions – when they heard the word “lupus” come out of my mouth. I was so not worth their time to talk to that they didn’t even both to say a polite goodbye, just slammed the phone down.
Thanks to the ACA, I now have the possibility of purchasing insurance. Which means I can get the medical treatment I need to manage my potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Get over your self-righteous stubborness. People are literally dying because of the current system that leaves people like me out in the cold. Being told that being a US citizen requires that you take the responsible step of taking care of yourself by having health insurance is no more socialist than being told you are required to buy car insurance because you are a driver. You have the choice of where to buy the insurance and what coverage to buy. No one’s telling you where and how to buy your coverage. They’re giving you – and ME – options. Something a lot of people didn’t have before.
Ah, SOCIALISM…The red herring word for the day!
@Magicone says-I take it that you feel your contributions to point entitle you and your wife to unlimited care for as long as you both live. Or, do you think it would be acceptable that either or both of you be cut off once you have exceeded the amount you contributed (with reasonable interest thrown in, of course.) At that point, you better hope that the people active in the workforce are more generous in their attitudes then you are. Because, if they aren’t, and they decide that they don’t want the burden of YOUR care shoved down THEIR throats, I’m not sure where that will leave you…Perhaps facing the kind of cruel and desperate choices people without health insurance face now.
I paid into medicare my whole working life (40 years) and my widowed wife paid into medicare her whole working life (35 years). I’ll take my medicare. I do not want Obamacare shoved down my throat. The cost of Obamacare is going to skyrocket, and I mean it is going to soar in the next few years. Can anyone answer this question? How do you add 50 million people to the medical system; and not add any Doctors or Nurses?
Well to answer that question: these people already see doctors, we just had to pay the bills through higher medical costs. yes, you and me who already have health insurance. you will not lose your Medicare benefits.
The people that came out are very informed about the ACA. it is not easy just takes time to do your homework, and that does not mean listening to right wing radio.
Nancy N. says
WOW. What a selfish, inhumane attitude. “I’ve got mine, screw everyone else.”
You do realize that “Obamacare” isn’t intended to take away your Medicare, right? You’ll still have the same Medicare you have today come January 1st. The only people that it changes things for are people like me who don’t currently have access to insurance, by giving us a path to get it.
@ Nancy, the problem is it just is not affordable, they need to re-work the bill and fix the flaws or the avearge person still will not be able to afford insurance
I have to laugh at the guy who called social security “successful.” I guess if you consider a bankrupt program successful then it is a real winner. As a conservative, I have no problem helping out those who truly are unable to help themselves through no fault of their own. The problem is, our safety nets have become a way of life for generation after generation of people who are convinced they can not, and should not shoot for anything better. A safety net is for people who get on the high wire and fall off. We have millions who bypass the wire and dive right into the net. Programs that enable people to get by with little or no effort simply create more dependent people. If you don’t believe me, then look at the numbers and see if there is any evidence the number of people on welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. has gone down. Nope; it’s gone up. This is simply another entitlement program, and that’s what it is, that we can’t afford. In case no one has noticed, we are now printing money to pay for things we can’t afford. Obamacare is taking a heavy toll on our economy, costing jobs and opportunity for those who need it most. It’s a disaster in the making, and it will be too late by the time most people figure it out.
@Outsider says–Please state where you got your “facts” about vast numbers of people staying on Assistance forever. That is a FOX news/Rush Limbaugh talking point…not a fact. It is a falsehood used as a mantra by people who are eager to beiieve anything that they think justifies their paranoia about the government trying to take everything they ever worked for away from them (because, you know, to some people, government is inherently evil–except when it comes to their receiving THEIR Medicare and Social Security checks. Or when THEY feel entitled to fudge on their tax forms or lie and hide assets so THEY won’t have to pay extra home care costs or nursing home bills.
For those who are calling ACA. socialism, you need to understand this program. Socialist medicine consist of government doctors, government owned insurance companies and the program is paid by the government. That definition fits our VA, not ACA.
71% of the tea party is on Medicare. Its okay for them to be taken care of , but no one else. Like Ted Cruz they are acting selfishly and arrogantly.
The ACA has been voted on 50 times, was found constitutional by the Supreme Court and survived a Presidential election. If our children acted like the Republicans in the house, we would punish them!
Typical Conservatives rhetoric, if not their proposal, is socialism-communism!. I also contributed to my Medicare and I am covered too, but all those without health care one way or the other even if in their final tragic stage of their late non prevented or treated illnesses, fall in our tax funded payments anyway.
How do you like to know that a waiter/s serving your dinner comes to work sick and gives you their viruses because they lack health care and can’t afford to take days off from work to get well?
Very simple to provide for health care for our own…by cutting the waste of trillions in useless wars and several moretillions in foreign aid, tax loop holes and refunds for the oil barons and many other corporate wealthy and this is not socialism but is humanitarian care that our own deserve! What a lack of compassion!!
To the contrary I welcome this Universal Healthcare/Obamacare for our fellow Americans.
You people that say our Medicare will not go up because those liars in the white house and the rest of Washington say so. When do you know they’re lying, is when their lips are moving..
I see a lot of name calling due to differences of opinions. I think the mandate is very debatable; however, it is what makes the act affordable. I’m not a “low information voter,” nor do I want people to do everything for me. I have a point of view, and until we can meet to discuss our differences like adults, we’ll have a hard time moving forward as a society.
Why I like the Affordable Care Act:
1. Creating exchanges gives us more health insurance options. In tough job markets, we can’t choose which job to accept based on the limited health care options the employer can afford. I like having MORE options while being able to choose to keep my current health insurance company if I so choose.
2. The exchanges create more competition. If our health care costs more than it does in most developed nations, than perhaps increasing competition for health insurance companies will create the motivation to reduce superfluous charges. More competition means lower prices, and if the health insurance companies must lower their prices to attract customers, than they will put more pressure on the health care industry and hospitals to reasonably price their services.
3. The mandate will affect a relatively small number of people; however, the penalty can cost less then the price of annual insurance. It pays for the lowered costs, further reducing the need for higher health care costs from uninsured people.
4. It will cost the government less money in the long run as people with Medicaid and other government insurance plans won’t be charged insurmountable fees due to all the uninsured people not paying any bills.
amom – Where is your data that back up your figures of “71%”? I’d really like you to explain. Sick of all these “stats” being thrown out into the world with absolutely NO MERIT to them.
Face facts people. Is Obamacare a kind and good hearted idea? Sure. Is it going to be costly? YES. Can we afford it? NO. Republicans AND Democrats are to blame for the mess we’re in and if you’re trusting any particular political party at this point, you’re an idiot. Point blank.
Anonymous you hit the nail on the head!
Rocky Mac says
For a fact ACA is not costing jobs. Safety nets are not a life time deal or generational. Welfare has been reformed, it is no longer a life long career. Yes there are more who need help, but that does not give anyone the right to deny a person a helping hand. it is the economy that has caused the increase in poverty levels, not lazy generations of families. I am speaking from my perspective of working with families at risk and mostly the impoverished. Shame on this great country if we cannot feed our children yet bomb villages a world away from us.
Did everyone see the “AFORDABLE” choices $569 a month with a $13,000 dedectable, but the plan is not flawed
Sherry Epley says
What does it say about the USA that until the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) was passed into law, the USA was the ONLY first world nation that did not provide ACCESS to health care for EVERY citizen?
We should all be proud that Obamacare is the law of our land and our Supreme court has already ruled on that it is legal and in keeping with our constitution. We should be outraged that the far right fascists are holding our federal government hostage to stop the full implementation of a law that has already been passed by Congress and the highest court of our land. A law that prohibits “for profit” insurance companies from “cherry picking” only the healthiest people for their policies and denying insurance to citizens with common ailments like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
Our health insurance premiums would not be increasing if Rick Scott would not have taken away the power of the Florida insurance commissioner to negotiate rates. You can blame Rick Scott and ONLY Rick Scott, if your premiums are rising.
SUPPORT HEALTHCARE FOR ALL! SUPPORT OBAMACARE!
First Rick Scott wasn’t the first to cause insurance rates to increase it was Charlie Crist in 2007. He is also the one who messed up Citizens Property Insurance. As for Obamacare it may allow for peoples with conditions to get insurance but it doesn’t mean they can afford it. The average family size is 4 so that is an average of $400.00 a month most people can’t afford that in Flagler County with property taxes home insurance and power and the water (which for Bunnell residentents is not safe for human consumption), but the base bill is 57.00 for using 10 gallons. If you want to fix the government (City, county, state, and federal) Lower the pay think of what these people make it is crazy lower the pay put the difference back in the budget and well we would not be cutting all the corners we cut.