On April 28th, the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service (IPL) at Bradley University and Divided We Fail from AARP held a “Together for Health” rally on Bradley’s campus. Nearly 100 Bradley University students joined members from AARP and the community to urge elected officials to get beyond gridlock and to work on bipartisan solutions for America’s health care crisis.
Joined in their efforts by the bipartisan mascot “Champ” (a cross between an elephant and a donkey), Bradley students took the lead in organizing the event, passing out flyers, drafting the press release and getting interviewed by the media. The event turned out to be a great lesson in grass-roots politics. It also brought young and old together to advocate for meaningful national health care reform.
As stated by Mary Patton, a member of AARP Illinois’ Executive Council from Peoria, “Skyrocketing health care costs are affecting Americans of all ages, young and old—so it’s important that we stand together and send a strong message to lawmakers and candidates to work on bipartisan solutions to address this critical issue.”
At the rally, Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director, shared some sobering facts:
- Approximately 47 million people of all ages were uninsured in 2006;
- Premium contributions for families have increased 82 percent over the past six years; and
- The total cost of employer-sponsored health insurance increased 72 percent for families over the past six years. Almost nine in 10 Americans (87%) are very or somewhat concerned about health care costs going up.
As a follow-up to the rally, IPL and Divided We Fail are planning to deliver petitions and pledges to the White House and Congress in February 2009 urging them to use bipartisan leadership to pass meaningful health care reform by the end of 2010. IPL plans to get a number of Peoria Charter buses and fill them with Bradley students, AARP members and community advocates, making our collective voices heard in Washington, D.C. Anyone interested in joining this effort can e-mail me at [email protected].
After this prolonged election, it will finally be time for our congressional leadership and the new President to take significant action and provide long-term solutions to address our nation’s health care crisis. IBI