The AR HEALTH + AR JOBS Coalition, a group of various organizations involved in the healthcare debate, held a rally this morning on the Capitol steps. Speakers included a doctor, a hospital administrator and Gov. Mike Beebe. If you've been reading this blog, you will be familiar with the points made. Expansion of coverage would provide better health outcomes to the more than 200,000 low-income, uninsured folks in this state. It would save lives. It would boost the economy and create jobs. It would give a lift to hospitals in need of help, some of which might not survive without it. And if we don't do it, Arkansas taxpayers and Arkansas hospitals will see their money flow out to give other states all those benefits without getting anything in return. See some highlights in the video above, compiled by the folks at Arkansas Advocates.
Faye Graham of North Little Rock, an uninsured cancer survivor currently working three jobs to make ends meet, spoke movingly of her own situation. "I think Arkansas should be commended on being on the cutting edge of this type of reform in health care," she said. "The entire country needs it desperately. and I personally need it desperately." Always important to remember that for all of the numbers floating around and the ideological disputes, this debate is about the real lives of real people. If you haven't yet, make sure to see our piece telling some of their stories.
The crowd of hundreds swarmed the Capitol after the rally to speak with lawmakers about expansion.
Worth noting that Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang spoke. He didn't come out and endorse expansion, but spoke positively about the concept. Another sign that Republicans are inching toward a deal, even if they're not quite ready to say so. Beebe made sure to grab Dismang and Rep. Reginald Murdock for a bipartisan photo-op.
After the jump, a photo of Dismang tweeting while Beebe speaks. Senator! Gotta be careful about social-media etiquette, you're in public!