The health care heat is on Congressman Joe Donnelly.
Over the lunch hour on Thursday, an estimated 250-people gathered outside Donnelly’s district office in South Bend to express their opinions on health care.
The demonstration was designed to be so big and boisterous that it would attract Donnelly’s attention in Washington D.C.
“We think that leader Pelosi will call the vote on Sunday rather than allow the house members to go home and hear from their representatives,” said Rally Organizer Dan Lee of Hoosier Patriots. “We're trying to show Congressman Donnelly that there is a lot of opposition to this health care bill.”
While health care opponents appeared to out number supporters, both were in attendance at the rally, and both apparently believe that the next vote on the health care bill could be the last.
“It gets no closer to this in American history,” said Joe Carbone of the Communications Workers of America. “It’s been seven presidents since we addressed this issue.”
At Thursday’s rally, demonstrators shouted, chanted, marched and even cried. “If they would just put themselves in our shoes, and see how it feels to not have health care,” said Pam Smith of South Bend. “When you have a simple tooth ache and you can’t even go to get your teeth worked on when you need it. Right now my teeth are just falling out of my mouth, pain, and I can’t do nothing about it, I don’t have the money.”
Keith Elcock holds a senior management position at a small business in Mishawaka. Elcock brought several concerns to the rally in South Bend. “Anytime the government gets involved, it ends up driving the costs up okay, and then what happens is we have to raise prices. If we raise prices, we lose customers. If we lose customers, we got to lay off employees,” said Elcock. “We’re on a path that’s unsustainable, we can’t afford this.”
Stephen Lewkauf also felt obligated to publicly share his opposition to the bill. “I stand firm against government controlled health care, we just don’t need government intrusion into our lives and more importantly we don’t need high costs for our health care, rationed health care, and just lower levels of the great health care system we’ve learned to expect and enjoy.”
In November, Congressman Donnelly voted in favor of the house health care bill. Donnelly is now one of three Indiana congressmen that are being pressured by both sides in the debate.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and I think you’re seeing that here today,” said Lewkauf.
Congressman Donnelly issued a written statement that said, in part, “I’m pleased the folks in north central Indiana have taken the opportunity to have their opinions heard on this important issue, and I thank them for engaging their government.”