Pro-Health Care Groups Take Case To Capitol Hill

With the fate of the health care bill still uncertain, Capitol Hill is swarming with advocates on both sides of the issue. Protesters have been knocking down the doors of lawmakers who are undecided, and bill supporters are pushing their message just as hard.

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With the fate of the health-care bill uncertain, advocates on both sides of the issue have crowded Capitol Hill. Protesters have been knocking down the doors of lawmakers who are undecided, and bill supporters are pushing their message just as hard.

NPR's Audie Cornish reports.

House Democrats are rallying with all the people they say a health-care bill would help. On Monday, it was babies. On Tuesday, seniors. And today, students took center stage with Democrats on the steps of the Capitol.

Ms. ALLISON GRADY (Student, University of North Carolina): I know people who are graduating and are going to not have health insurance. And Im just really afraid for them.

CORNISH: Allison Grady is with a group called Campus Progress. She's also a student at the University of North Carolina.

Ms. GRADY: Students are a lot of the people who are uninsured. I think we represent one-third of everyone who doesnt have health insurance. And Im not sure that we're doing enough. I know that we're talking about it and blogging about it, which is always good. But not enough people are taking to the streets.

CORNISH: Inside the Capitol, health-care advocacy groups had full-page ads in Hill newspapers, and they lobbied lawmakers on the fence. They aren't rallying by the hundred, as some opponents have, but they are making their voices heard, says Ron Pollack of Families USA.

Mr. RON POLLACK (Executive Director, Families USA): They may not be wearing buttons, or they may not have bullhorns, but what this effort shows is that there is an unprecedented number of organizations that are very diverse, that are saying as clearly as possible: Support health reform.

CORNISH: Pollack says more than 150 advocacy groups, from unions to medical associations and civil rights groups such as the NAACP, are supporting the bill. NAACP health director Shavon Arline says change is a moral issue.

Ms. SHAVON ARLINE (Health Director, NAACP): We're here to ask Congress: Whose side are you on? Are you on the American people's side, or are you not? We say, enough talk. Let's get it done. No more politics because it is a matter of life and death.

CORNISH: Some advocates are still troubled by abortion provisions in the bill, and by taxes on high-cost insurance plans. But they say they're putting those concerns aside to help push the health-care effort across the finish line.

Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.

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