More than 100 people assembled at Hemisfair park on Saturday in the blazing heat during the Medicare For All march. Sofia Sepulveda, co-chair of Healthcare-NOW San Antonio Coalition, addressed the marchers during a rally about single-payer health care — a system where health care is provided to all by one entity.
“Regardless if we are Democrat, Republican, independent, liberal — we all need health care,” Sepulveda shouted to the marchers who gripped their embellished signs. “This affects everybody.”
The march started and ended at Hemisfair downtown and was organized by Healthcare-NOW San Antonio Coalition — a group of progressive community organizers, nurses, social workers, physicians and union organizers.
“Now is the time to demand Medicare for all, which is what we should all want”
After hearing the news that Republicans’ attempt to repeal parts of Obamacare failed in the U.S. Senate in a 49-to-51 vote earlier in the week, the array of marchers felt more motivated to demand universal health care.
“Now is the time to demand Medicare for all, which is what we should all want,” Sepulveda said as marchers applauded.
At the rally, each speaker was challenged by the sounds of screaming young children and jets gushing out water a few feet away at the park’s “Splash Pad.”
District 9 Councilman John Courage articulated to the marchers that healthcare isn’t a political or economic issue, but rather it is a moral matter.
“The insurance company is not interested in helping overcome your disease, or your illness, or your accident. They are just interested in creating something that will allow you to pay your health care cost,” Courage said. “What we need is a system that is based on making sure that we are all healthy.”
Speakers with varying perspectives followed but emphasized the same premise: healthcare for all.
The 1.6-mile march, guided by the the local Brown Berets group, took marchers through downtown as they chanted. “The people, united. Will never be divided,” they yelled as tourists, San Antonians and motorists watched. “We are ready to fight, health care is a human right.”
Spectators pulled out their cellphones to record a video and snap a photo, and some even chanted along.
The line of marchers passed up Mark Kenzie, Army veteran, who waited for his bus at a stop on Market Street. Kenzie echoed their chants because they reflected his beliefs that health care is a basic human right.
“It pisses me off that our president (Drumpf) is so narrow minded. It’s hard for me to say because I am a veteran and I do receive health care,” Kenzie said. “Health care is something that everyone should have.”
Alice Canestaro, 66, clutched a sign that read, “I can’t walk but I will march,” as she participated in the march in her wheelchair. Canestaro recently received Medicare, but has friends and family dying from lack of health care, she said. She’s witnessed peers file for bankruptcy in order to pay for surgeries.
“It’s not just heartbreaking. It’s idiotic. It’s insane . . . I don’t have sufficient words that I can say in polite company to cover that,” Canestaro said. “We must have health care. It’s a human right.”
At the tail end of the march, car horns and cheering on-lookers propelled the marchers through the 100-plus-degree heat. Feet stopped moving and chants increased when the line parked in front of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
Sepulveda roared through her megahorn and marchers chanted along “Single-payer now, single-payer now, single-payer now.”