BRADENTON — Though she forgot to make a sign for Thursday’s Healthcare Freedom Rally, Patricia Wallace could have carried the banner for the dozen or so ralliers who turned out on Manatee Avenue West to protest government involvement in health care reform.
The Bradenton resident, a diabetes patient and triple-bypass heart surgery survivor, knows the U.S. health care system from the inside.
Like her follow demonstrators, she wants to keep government on the sidelines.
“I think we have excellent health care,” Wallace said. “I’ve been on the gurney plenty of times. My doctors are some of the best around, and they take good care of me.
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“I want choice. We are an independent country. I’m disappointed in both of the political systems. To sit and criticize is not enough. We’ve got to have action.”
Groups behind the recent tax day tea parties — Tea Party Patriots, ResistNet, Freedomworks, 9/12 Project — organized rallies against President Barack Obama’s health-care proposal at U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s Bradenton and Sarasota offices.
The handful of ralliers, most clad in red and waving American flags, lined Manatee Avenue late in the afternoon.
“We’re going bankrupt, and he (Obama) wants to spend all this money on health care,” said event organizer Christine Prazeres, District 13 coordinator for the group Patriotic Resistance. “For Obama and his administration to tell me what kind of health care I can have, what shot I can take, what test I can have, what medicine I can take is unconstitutional.”
Obama’s health care proposal, still winding its way through House and Senate committees, has been estimated to cost $1 trillion over 10 years and would provide universal coverage. The president has proposed paying for the plan by cutting Medicaid and Medicare and increasing taxes on those who make more than $250,000 per year.
About 20 people attended the rally at Buchanan’s downtown Sarasota office, according to his spokeswoman, Sally Tibbetts. Buchanan has yet to declare a position on Obama’s proposal, but Tibbetts said he favors ideas like increasing preventive care, encouraging tort reform and allowing small businesses to pool their resources to reduce health care costs.
“The congressman definitely feels we need health care reform to make it more accessible and affordable,” Tibbetts said. “But he thinks patients and doctors, not bureaucrats, should be making the decisions.”