Health reform supporters plan rallies, bus tours

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Supporters of President Obama's health care reform plan are ramping up their efforts with rallies and bus tours starting this week, aiming to counter public skepticism leading up to Congress' post-Labor Day return to Washington.

"We want to send members of Congress back to D.C. with the real message, which is that the majority of the public want comprehensive health care reform and we want it now," said Jacki Schechner, spokeswoman for Health Care for America Now, an umbrella organization of groups pushing for a comprehensive health care overhaul.

"We want to make sure members of Congress understand the last couple of weeks is not where the majority of the public is," said Schechner, referring to rowdy town hall meetings dominated by critics of the Democrats' plans.

As conservative groups have organized against Democrats' health care legislation and cast it as a government takeover of health care, polls have shown fading public support for changes and skepticism over Obama's handling of the issue.

Health Care for America Now is coordinating its efforts with Organizing for America, the Obama campaign organization now melded into the national Democratic Party.

Organizing for America plans a bus tour beginning Wednesday in cities including Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., Denver, Des Moines, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, N.C., and Milwaukee. The bus will make 11 stops between today and Sept. 3.

Some 2,000 events are planned around the country through Labor Day, according to Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine. The wide range of events include phone bank calling and rallies.

"We want our members of Congress to head back to Washington with calls for reform still ringing in their ears -- and knowing that those who are working hard for reform have our thanks," said an e-mail sent by Organizing for America inviting supporters to bus tour events. "But we can't do it without a massive show of support from the voters who know what's at stake."

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