Valley residents pray in Modesto for health-care reform

About 40 people gathered at Tenth Street Plaza on Tuesday morning to pray for a national health care system. They also prayed for Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and others in Congress faced with the task of making health insurance affordable for all.

The event, sponsored by Congregations Building Community in Modesto, drew people such as Fabiola Garcia, who lost her health insurance five years ago when she resigned from her job as a credit union loan officer when her daughter, Veronica Hall, was born prematurely, weighing 14.9 ounces.

"They said she would never come home alive," the Modesto resident said. "When she did come home on oxygen, it was going to cost $27 an hour for child care, so I had to resign to take care of her.

"We didn't have debt for her, but my medical bills cost $22,000. We need medical care for all the people in this country who can't afford insurance through their jobs, not just for me. There are thousands of people without insurance."

Adolfo Lopez, an 18-year-old Modesto native, will start his senior year at Modesto High School in a couple of weeks. He has insurance through the Healthy Families program, but he said his parents, seasonal cannery workers, are uninsured when they aren't working.

"There are a lot of people out there, especially in this community, who can't afford health care or aren't eligible for it," he said. "This is something we need; it's not a luxury."

The Rev. Wayne Bridegroom of Central Baptist Church in west Modesto, who led the rally, said some people are afraid of the quality of care that would come from a nationalized health system.

"There are a host of fine doctors in the county system and a host of fine doctors in the private sector," he said. "And preventative medicine is always less expensive."

Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at 578-2012 or