DMS students call for reform at vigil

| 11/19/09 11:00pm
by Sarah Irving and Sarah Irving / The Dartmouth

"I think it strikes me as so fundamental to who we are as a nation and as a community that people should be able to receive medical care when they need it," Nelson said, equating the importance of public health care to that of other public services like education, policing and fire fighting.

The vigil was held primarily to make a statement to Sen. Judd Gregg, R- N.H., who has vowed to join fellow Senate Republicans in a filibuster of the Democratic health care reform bill introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Wednesday, event organizers and participants said.

Alexandra Coria DMS '12, the Dartmouth chapter coordinator of Physicians for Human Rights, a health care advocacy group, criticized Gregg, saying that the "democratic process" must go forward.

"We want to show [Gregg] that his constituents do not support this filibuster," Coria said.

Elizabeth Richey DMS '13, who organized the vigil with Coria, said that health care is an essential right owed to all citizens.

"As a future physician, I hope to someday work in a health care system where everyone has access to care," she said. "We're here as a group of people saying that health care is a basic human right."

The vigil was attended by DMS students, but a majority of the attendees were members of the greater Upper Valley community. Participants held candles and signs supporting the health care bill. Richey said she was generally pleased with the turnout, but was disappointed about the lack of undergraduate participation.

Physics professor emeritus David Montgomery, who was among the local residents who participated in the event, spoke of his experience living in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, saying that both he and his acquaintances in those countries were "very satisfied" with the health services provided. "The expense is enormous, and the results are not that great," Montgomery said, referring to the U.S. health care system.

State Rep. Sharon Nordgren, D-Grafton, also attended the event. As a member of the State House Finance Committee, Nordgren oversees the sections of the state budget pertaining to health care.

While wary of the political tensions in Washington and their potential consequences on the health care bill, Norgren said she is optimistic about the prospects for health care reform.

"Everyone feels we need to do something," she said. "If something gets passed, we'll be happy."