Gulfport seniors weigh in on health care debate

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Morning Star Baptist Church joined with Memorial Medical Center in hosting a community health fair Wednesday morning. That event in Gulfport was an ideal setting to talk with senior citizens about the ongoing health care debate in Washington.

A church group called "gray power" hosts a regular monthly meeting of senior citizens. Wednesday's event featured free health screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

"So, does anybody know a sign or symptom of stroke?" the health educator from Memorial Stroke Center asked the group of seniors.

Memorial Stroke Center helped organize the health fair, educating seniors about the warning signs of stroke and stroke prevention.

Seniors we questioned about health care reform are most concerned about the growing number of Americans without health insurance.

"Some people in the neighborhood and around the country who need health care and can't afford it," said Gulfport resident Rudolph Merrell. "People losing jobs right and left, no matter what the President tries to do."

"We all need some kind of health care," added Lucille Roche. "We can't make it without health care. We need the health care. So, I'm hoping and praying they will make the right decision for health care."

Margdean Hicks is pleased her blood pressure was good. She said much of the health care debate and concern boils down to a single issue.

"Money," she said calmly.

Church deacon David Hall said job creation would certainly help ease any health care crisis.

"The families that doesn't have jobs and not able to afford the insurance, unless they have a job. And one of the best things it seems like the President is trying to do is fix it where everyone can have a job," Hall said.

Most seniors stay informed about health care issues, because so many rely on Medicare for coverage.

"Because the elderly, they don't know what to do when they change and do different things," event organizer Betty Johnson said. "And they're not always able to get their medication. And that's a big concern. Do these seniors expect a favorable outcome to the health care debate?

"I certainly hope so. I'm praying for that end anyway," said Rudolph Merrell.

The overwhelming concern among those we talked with was for those Americans who don't have health insurance; especially those who've lost their jobs in this difficult economy.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.