Christine Stuart photo
Thousands turned out Saturday for the Universal Health Care Foundation’s “Stand Up For Health Care” rally in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

Those looking to be counted included labor unions, interfaith coalitions, and individuals seeking better health insurance coverage for their families, friends, and neighbors. Click here to read Melissa Bailey’s report on those who trekked to Hartford from New Haven to rally for universal health care.

State and local elected-officials were invited to attend the rally, but none of them were able to speak to the crowd from stage. Organizers wanted them to be the audience for Saturday’s message.

“Our governor and legislature need to act now,” Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation (pictured below) said. He said the message they want to send to political leadership is “Get it Done!” The crowd responded back by chanting “Get it Done!” along with Figueroa.

Christine Stuart photo

At the end of the rally Figueroa had everyone help him make a video message to send to the states political leaders. The message is the crowd chanting, “What do we want? Health Care. When do we want it? Now.” They tried to call the governor’s office to leave a message but were unable to since there is no answering service.

Whether lawmakers will get the message remains to be seen. Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, who attended the rally said the legislature is poised to do something about health care this year, but he was reluctant to endorse a single-payer system, which would call for complete reform. He said it looks like the legislature will increase enrollment in Medicaid programs, like HUSKY and SAGA and expand community-based health centers and the use of electronic medical records.

Christine Stuart photo

Many of his colleagues in attendance Saturday seemed to feel baby steps may be taken this year, but there doesn’t seem to be enough political will, even after Saturday’s rally, to drastically reform the system.

So what will it take?