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Dean and 500 Followers March for Health Care Reform

No one will be claiming a turnout of two million, but Howard Dean and company managed to draw a healthy crowd for their health care rally today in Washington’s Dupont Circle.

About 500 people turned out this morning to push for health care reform and stand up against health insurance companies. The message of the rally? Health insurance companies and reform opponents should stop being greedy and help insure the millions of people who need health care. Organized by Health Care for America Now, a national grassroots campaign fighting for affordable health care, the protest couldn’t attract the thousands that some anti-health care protests have drawn, but it still managed to assemble one of the larger crowds of pro-health care rallies.

Speakers, including Dean, the former governor of Vermont and founder of Democracy for America, and Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, called attention to the need for demanding immediate health care reform.

Members of the dozens of labor unions and community organizations participating in the rally held signs reading “Stop Corporate Lobbyists,” “enough greed and selfishness” and “I kill for profit,” among many others.

“I’m here for my son,” said Skip Roberts, a Service Employees International Union member from D.C. who held a sign with the “criminal record” of Well Point CEO Angela Braly. Roberts’ son, who’s too old to be on his parents’ plan, had just started a new job and doesn’t get benefits for three months. And with asthma as a pre-existing condition for his son, Roberts said insurance prices are outrageous.

Near the end of the short rally at the circle, an organizer called on the crowd to march down M Street to the Ritz-Carlton where they would “issue warrants of arrests” of health insurance lobbyists and CEOs. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national association representing about 1,300 health insurance companies, is currently holding a conference at the hotel. About 1,000 more people were meeting at the Ritz for a speaking program and to protest.

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