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Posted at 1:38 PM ET, 01/26/2010

250 people rally for health care

By Washington Post editors

Chanting "What Do We Want? Health Care. When do we want it? Now," about 250 people converged on the steps of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today to urge Congress to pass health care reform.

"The question for America is will the corporate lobbysts win or will the people win?" said Richard Kirsch, executive director of Health Care for America now. Kirsch was flanked by more than a dozen people who took part in the protest because they had health conditions not covered by insurance.

Christine Gruel, 55, a real estate broker from Silver Spring, said she came to the march because her monthly health insurance is more than her mortgage.

"I am paying $1,500 every month to cover five people," Gruel said. "As a self employed person why am paying more for health insurance than the roof over my head. Something is terribly wrong with our sustem when a middle class family is facing bankruptcy over health care."

Marcus Grimes, 38, was also among the marchers. Grimes is a school teacher who lost his eyesight because he didn't have the money for the necessary surgery.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, several former members of Congress, including former Michigan Representative David Bonior were among the speakers at the rally.

"Behind these doors is where the decisions are being made to deny the American people the health care they deserve," Bonior told the crowd. "Behind these doors sit the architects of doom..."

Former Ballou High School teacher and head football coach
Noel Cyrus, a former teacher and head football coach at Ballou High School, was also among the protesters. Cyrus was recently laid off from his job with the D.C. Public School system, and now worries about having health insurance for himself and his mother.

"Everybody needs healthcare,'' he said. "My mother has had several strokes. They said all kinds of negative things about teachers but I gave my life for these kids."

There were no arrests and the protest ended shortly after 1 p.m.

-- Hamil R. Harris

By Washington Post editors  | January 26, 2010; 1:38 PM ET
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