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Kristen Daum, Published October 21 2009

Fargo marchers seek public option

About 20 members of local advocacy groups marched through downtown Fargo on Tuesday, calling for affordable health care through a public health insurance option.

“We’re speaking out for the voice of the voiceless who are being left behind by a system that insures profits, not people,” said Ryan Nagle, state director of Change That Works.

Those voiceless are the estimated 48,000 who die every year due to a lack of health insurance coverage, Nagle said.

“We need to change that,” he said, adding that the groups support the public health insurance option being considered by Congress.

Congressional leaders are working to blend five health care reform bills before legislation can be brought to the House and Senate floors for voting.

Tuesday’s march in Fargo was comprised of members from NDPeople.org, Catholics United, Change That Works, Health Care for America Now and other advocacy groups.

North Dakota state Sen. Tim Mathern and Fargo-Moorhead faith leaders participated in the march and also submitted a letter to U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, asking him to vote for the public option.

In the letter, Mathern and the faith leaders call it a “moral scandal” that more than 68,000 North Dakotans don’t have health care insurance.

“In the breadbasket of the wealthiest nation in the world, it is shameful that we accept the suffering of so many fellow citizens at the hands of a broken health care system,” Mathern said.

Participants in the march also carried signs – such as “Shield me from your profits” and “People B4 Profits” – in reaction to administrative spending at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

Some passers-by reacted against the march, with a few people shouting comments in opposition to the participants.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541