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Baucus Arrests Five More Doctors, Nurses, Activists
By David Swanson
Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs were signs reading: "Nurses Say: Patients First," "Stop AHIP," (referring to health insurance lobbyists), "Pass Single Payer."
This was the second hearing at which, despite majority support for single-payer in polls, not a single advocate for single-payer was permitted to participate. The nurses were asked to leave and did so. But five people spoke up for single-payer and were arrested: Dr. Judy
Desovich Dasovich; DeAnn McEwen, a nurse from Longbeach Memorial Medical Center ICU; Sue Cannon, a nurse from UC-Irvine; Dr. Steven Fenichel from New York Ocean City, New Jersey; and Jerry Call, a member of Physicians for a National Health Program from South Thomaston, Maine.
Flowers phoned me from the sidewalk at Constitution Avenue and First Street at 10:30 a.m. as the arrestees were being brought outside one by one and a crowd was cheering and chanting. About 10 nurses staged a brief sit-in on the sidewalk while we were on the phone. Numerous TV cameras and boom mics were present from Bill Moyer's Journal, CBS, and other networks.
Groups involved included CNA, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, Gray Panthers, Public Citizen, and Code Pink. Seven of the "Baucus Eight" arrestees from the last hearing were present for this one. [Update: Also involved was ProsperityAgenda.us.]
I heard chants of "Lock Up Baucus!" and "Baucus Baucus You Can't Hide - We Can See Your Greedy Side!"
People were holding up posters and banners including a large one showing a healthcare provider with tape over their mouth and the words "Most Physicians Want a Single Payer National Health System."
Video and photos will be posted soon at http://afterdowningstreet.org/baucus
Dare we hope for media reports as good as was Ed Schultz's last time?
On Wednesday, May 13, Flowers and other leaders of the campaign for single-payer will be speaking at a rally at Upper Senate Park from noon to 2 p.m. (You can also catch a hearing on torture at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 226.) Then at 3 p.m. actor Mike Farrell will join Congressman Dennis Kucinich for a press conference on single-payer at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2203. Find more about the week's events at http://pdamerica.org
I'll be there. Will you?
Helen Thomas asked about single payer at the White House.
Q Did anyone represent single payer at this meeting today? The President once said we weren't at the table. Was anyone there at the table?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I don't think was a full meeting of those that might be at the table. I believe that people of varying opinions have been here for different meetings, have been part of the larger health care reform summit that was done earlier this year, and I don't doubt that in the coming days differing viewpoints about how to achieve cost savings in increased coverage will be part of that discussion.
Q Well, it isn't just cost savings. It's the feeling that everybody should have medicine and health care in this country.
MR. GIBBS: Helen, the President doesn't disagree with you. But unless we do something about the costs, the question that was asked earlier about its impact on the deficit will become all too apparent for those that receive, ultimately, coverage that they can't afford. If that ultimately becomes the case, I'm not sure that that -- I'm not sure that the President or anybody would agree that's involved that that would be what's considered reform.
I think the important step that was taken today was a recognition by many of those representing different players in the industry that health care inflation has gotten out of control, and that unless or until we do something about the skyrocketing costs and the arc of those skyrocketing costs, it's going to be hard to provide reform and increased coverage for anybody in this country, because if health care -- if the cost of health care continues to grow at two or three times normal inflation, or exponentially greater than wages in this country, I'm not sure what a realistic model is for somebody keeping that coverage.
Q Why isn't Social Security and Medicare a real model? They work.
MR. GIBBS: I don't think there's any doubt that they work. You're talking about two of the most impactful programs that this country has seen in a hundred years. We have to make sure, though, that we can, going forward, afford them. The biggest way that we -- the greatest number of steps that we can take to ensure that Medicare continues to provide the type of peace of mind and health care coverage that seniors have become used to and accustomed to -- rightly so -- is to ensure that we do something moving forward about their cost. That's why the President proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in savings from insurance company middlemen that are providing the very same service that Medicare can and should be providing on its own. Let's take those unnecessary subsidies for those that provide insurance and find a way to use that money to strengthen the program and provide additional coverage for others.
It's National Nurses Week call and fax your reps in support of single payer.
National day of protest is May 30th.
Planning is happening in:
Albany, NY - May 27th
Atlana, GA - May 27th
Augusta, ME - May 30th
Austin, TX - May 30th
Billings, MT - May 16th
Boston, MA - May 30th
Chicago, IL - June 2nd
Denver, CO - May 30th
Elmwood Park, NJ - June 5
Fenton, MI - May 21st
Indianapolis, IN - May 20th
Lawrence, KS - May 30th
Louisville, KY - May 28th
Middleton, CT - May 28th
New Albany, IN - May 30th
New York City, NY - May 30th
Philadelphia, PA - May 30th
Pittsburgh, PA - May 29th
Phoenix, AZ - May 30th
Pontiac, MI - June 16th
Portland, OR - TBA
Princeton, NJ - May 31st
Rochester, NY - May 30th
San Diego, CA - June 3rd
San Francisco, CA - TBA
Seattle, WA - May 30th
Springfield, MA - May 27th
Tampa, FL - TBA
Topeka, KS - May 30th
Towson, MD - May 30th
Wheaton, MD - May 30th
See also this report from Single Payer Action.
Here's Washington Times.
And Associated Press.