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Why we risked arrest for single-payer health care
By Margaret Flowers, M.D.
On May 5, eight health care advocates, including myself and two other physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the Senate Finance Committee during a “public roundtable discussion” with a simple question: Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have a seat at the table?
The answer was a loud, “Get more police!” And we were arrested and hauled off to jail.
The fact that a national health insurance program is supported by the majority of the public, doctors and nurses apparently means nothing to Sen. Baucus. The fact that thousands of people in America are dying every year because they can’t get health care means nothing. The fact that over 1 million Americans go into bankruptcy every year due to medical debt – even though most of them had insurance when they got sick – means nothing.
Broadcast 04/29/09, as posted at Health Care Now!
National Lobby Day and Rally for Single-Payer in DC, Wednesday, May 13, noon-2 PM, Upper Senate Park, Washington, DC
Michael Munk details Obama's political odyssey on his single-payer health care positions:
According to Quentin Young, MD, whose partner in his practice has been Barack Obama's personal physician since the Senator moved into Hyde Park, in Obama's early years in politics, he used to say he was all for single-payer. Then in 2006, the Senator started to say he was still for it, but that it would never happen without a solid Democrat majority in Congress. Then during the presidential campaign, he said that that option would be included in the mix of plans he supported.
Today, he finally made it clear that now he is committed to protecting the profits of health insurance companies and was opposed to single payer! Read on...
Sebelius Aims To Settle Concerns About Single-Payer Health System | CaliforniaHealthline.org | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the Obama administration does not support taking over the health care system entirely, but hopes to create a public insurance option that would compete with private insurers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
She said, "Dismantling the private market and having an entirely public option, a single-payer system, I think is not something that the president supports."
By David Swanson
I can't recall a better corporate news video segment in at least the past decade than the story that Ed Schultz just aired on MSNBC in which he interviews Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and Senator Debbie Stabenow on the topic of healthcare reform.
Sure, Ed slaps a gratuitous insult on the heroines of Code Pink, says he's against protesting and "getting arrested" as a rule but thinks it's OK if doctors in suits and "educated professional people" do it, and pretends to believe (or actually believes) that President Obama favors considering the possibility of creating single-payer healthcare. But the heart of this story is the gaping chasm between majority opinion and the corporate agenda of the United States Senate. And Ed Schultz hits it out of the park.
"It's faster and easier than selling drugs."
Those are the words of a convict, once a Miami drug dealer, who left the street life to participate in a scheme to make even bigger money: Medicare fraud.
And it worked. In seven years, he estimates he made about $8 million....
On May 5, 2009, eight activists were arrested at a health care hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, in the Dirksen Office Building, Room 106. As soon as the Committee Chair, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), opened the proceedings, the activists began in turns to stand and to make comments, like: "Why isnt a single payer at the table?" They were immediately "escorted" out of the room by the Capitol Hill police and placed under arrest.
Click "Read more."
By Kevin Zeese
Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up for single payer health care. We stood up during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing was only to hear from the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, HMO’s and business interests. They did not want to hear about a real national health care plan.
I was one of the eight.
We stood up to the private health insurance industry, to the corporate power in Congress and demanded a single payer national health care plan where everybody is in and nobody is out. We want a plan that ensures the peoples right to choose their own doctor, hospital and health care treatment. We want a plan that will control costs – something that cannot be done unless the insurance industry, HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies are challenged.
By Clark Newhall Dr. Margaret Flowers and other single payer advocates took direct action this morning and got carted off to jail. Fifteen of our allies demanded to know why single payer ws not even allowed a seat at the table yesterday during 'Mad Max" Baucus's Senate Finance Committee sham hearing on insurance-company-friendly fake 'reform."
Notably, Baucus made mouth noises about the 'respect' he has for single payer advocates. Apparently , his respect does not extend to allowing our ideas to be heard in Congress. Meantime, his Senatorial colleagues were joking and laughing about the protest, paying it no attention. Yet, the clowns at the testimony table, including Karen Ignoble Ignani, were accorded the greatest respect by the clowns at the hearing table. Margaret and those who were with you -- you are HEROES.
You make us proud. Each of us can take a lesson from you and each of us must do what we feel is the most we can do. Without all of us acting together, more millions will die through the mis-managed and neglectful health insurance driven non-system. Baucus, your hypocrisy makes me ill. Obama, you are complicit in this crap.Journalists, your silence on single payer shows where your real professional allegiance lies -- in your pockets with the big business money that lines them.
Here are the folks who were arrested this morning: Katie Robbins, Russell Mokhiber, Kevin Zeese, Carol Paris, Margaret Flowers, Mark Dudzic, Jean Fox (?), Adam Schneider.
One example of the terribly biased testimonies being taken is that of the testimony submitted by Richard Scott to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, subcommittee on health, on March 24, 2009. Mr. Scott reports that he was asked to submit his testimony to the committee. On his website, Conservatives for Patient Rights, Scott touts his own experience in the delivery of healthcare in this nation as reason enough to consider him an expert....$1.7 billion with a great big "B" was paid by HCA to resolve the Medicare and Medicaid fraud mess orchestrated under Mr. Scott's watch who walked away with his own sweet deal. The largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud case in U.S. history, an investigation of over 10 years and he walks away with hundreds of millions of dollars only to return as one of our current expert witnesses on health reform? Whew. That's an epic award and an epic injustice.
Many know by now that a single payer healthcare system is the type of reform most widely supported by the American people and a majority of nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals. Many also know that Congress has so far deftly and purposely shunned most expert witnesses who would offer evidence in favor of that publicly funded, privately delivered system. The media has also done its part to keep the message targeted away from single payer as recent independent studies showed how the mainstream media did its level best to keep big insurance and pharmaceutical advertisers happy by not reporting fairly on the topic.
By David Swanson
Our nation has more money than any other, more weapons than all the others combined, and a majority of its citizens believing it is, in some undefined sense, superior. But the people who live in the United States trail many other nations in basic measures of health and well-being. Almost uniquely among wealthy nations, we leave tens of millions of our citizens without health coverage, and many times that number with insufficient -- albeit expensive -- health insurance. We pay more per capita than anybody else for healthcare, and we get dramatically less for it. What gives?
We are well on our way to another Washington Wipeout Weekend!! Since last night, we have sent over 2000 faxes to senators on the Finance Committee, asking for real hearings instead of sham and real reform instead of fake. This time, our LCGHC friends at Progressive Democrats, HealthCare Now and PNHP are joining in too. If you haven't sent your fax yet, send a FREE FAX NOW. If you have sent your fax, SEND ANOTHER FREE FAX NOW.
More Great News. The Mike Farrell ad "Don't Sell Us Short" opened on national TV last night. The ad is competing for spots on Chris Matthews Hardball, Larry King Live and Meet The Press. Every time it runs there is a big spike in calls to our "Call the White House" 800 number (800-578-4171; you can call too.)
Join us in a 'CyberMarch' on Washington on May 30, 2009. We want Medicare for All -- health care for every American! Sign Up today and choose your avatar who will go to Washington for you on May 30. Your avatar will join others to demand that insurance companies be removed from health care.
The Virtual March on Washington is an important and fun way to show your support for universal single payer health care. Click here to be a part of it!
Book Can Now Be Ordered, Book Tour Being Planned
You can now pre-order my book at Amazon.com
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama was so obviously pleased to have five-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announce that he was switching party affiliation and joining the Democratic Party that the president missed an opportunity to make sure that his new BFF in the Senate was also a backer of the issues that Obama ran on in the presidential campaign.
Indeed, while President Obama was quick to offer Sen. Specter his backing and even to offer to help him with fund-raising in his quest for re-election in 2010, he said nothing at all about any quid-pro-quo.
This is not only unfortunate. It is irresponsible.
Sen. Specter, for all his claims to be an independent thinker, has over the years voted at lease 65% of the time with his Republican colleagues in the Senate—a support level for Republican positions that exceeds that of two of his Republican colleagues from Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins.
Progressive Caucus Meets With President Obama on Health Care Reform and Supplemental Funding for Iraq & Afghanistan Operations
Progressive Caucus Meets With President Obama on Health Care Reform and Supplemental Funding for Iraq & Afghanistan Operations | Press Release
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) this afternoon met with President Obama in a wide ranging discussion at the White House. The meeting was largely focused on discussions regarding healthcare reform and the upcoming supplemental appropriations request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier this month the CPC Co-Chairs wrote to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid to urge inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare, at a minimum, in any final health care reform bill.
Caucuses Unite Behind Public Health Insurance Plan Option | Press Release
(Washington DC) – In an unprecedented initiative, the leaders of four prominent groups in the 111th Congress – the Progressive Caucus (CPC), the Black Caucus (CBC), the Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) – have sent a joint letters to President Obama (ATTACHED) and the Democratic Leadership of the House and Senate stressing that ‘our support for enacting legislation this year to guarantee affordable health care for all firmly hinges on the inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.’
Quarantine may seem the stuff of mediocre melodramas, but if the swine flu explodes into an epidemic, involuntary isolation could become a reality for more than a few unlucky Americans.
So far the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 68 documented cases of swine flu in the United States, with at least seven people hospitalized. And New York Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced that "many hundreds" of New York City schoolchildren are sick with suspected cases of swine flu. Across the country, in Los Angeles, the coroner's office is investigating two possible deaths.
By Dave Lindorff
For almost a generation, the Democrats in Congress have been able to pretend to be the party of ordinary working people, the party of progressives, and the inheritor of the mantel of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, all the while doing little of substance and catering primarily to the interests of Wall Street and the nation’s corporate interests.
The Democrats managed this sleight of hand for so long by claiming that while they had the best of intentions, reality, in the form of their inability to pass legislation, even when they were in the majority in both houses of Congress, that could avoid being filibustered to death by a Republican minority.
That situation has continued to this day, with the party currently having 58 seats in the Senate.
By Dave Lindorff
The outbreak of a new swine flu in Mexico, and the potential threat of a new global pandemic, shines a bright light on a major weakness in the United States—an employment system where most workers are not paid or even face getting let go if they get sick and have to stay home from work, combined with a broken healthcare system where roughly one in six people have no ready access to a doctor.
What the American failure to mandate employer-paid sick-days means is that most Americans who don’t feel well go to work anyway, in part for fear of losing their jobs, and in part because they are already living so close to the margin that they cannot afford to miss a few days’ pay.
Remember when Moveon polled its members on whether they wanted Pelosi's plan to continue the war or nothing, neglecting to include the Lee Amendment option? Well, the AFL-CIO is NOT going to be out done:
Put Single Payer in the Survey!
By Andy Coates, MD
Steward in the Public Employees Federation (PEF), AFL-CIO,
A statewide New York union affiliated with AFT and SEIU
In an attempt to find out what union members think about the health care crisis and its solution, the AFL-CIO recently asked union members and supporters to complete a health care survey.
The problem with the survey is that it does not present the full range of opinions union members have, and nowhere in the survey is single payer, or Medicare for All, or HR 676 even mentioned as an option.
Mike Farrell Videos Done: Put Them on TV Now
Mike Farrell ("BJ Hunicutt" from TV's MASH) supports Medicare For All
You can support Medicare For All too. Send a fax to the White House and to key Senators and Congressmen by clicking on the "send a fax" link in the video or just send your fax to Congress and the White House right now.
Camp Lejeune Historic Water Update
HR 676 Week of Action: April 18 - 25
Plan an event or join in one near you!
The healthcare insurance corporations--who have bought access to elected officials through generous campaign contributions--have secured their place at the healthcare reform table. But the majority of Americans and healthcare providers who support single-payer healthcare, along with the 500+ local labor unions, the 40 cities and towns and the Conference of Mayors and other endorsers and activists, have been shut out of the debate.
By Russell Mokhiber, CommonDreams.org
Last week, I wrote an article - "Something is Rotten at PBS" - about a slanted PBS Frontline documentary - "Sick Around America."
Frontline hired former Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid to put together the documentary.
Reid did the reporting.
He turned over his interviews to the Frontline producers.
And they came back with a documentary Reid couldn't agree with.
Frontline tried to get Reid to narrate the film anyway - whether he agreed with it or not.
Reid and Frontline parted ways.
After "Something is Rotten at PBS" ran last week, I got a ton of e-mail.
So did Frontline.
By Margaret Flowers
The type of health care reform we see coming out of Washington will be determined by those who have a seat at the table. Right now the major players are health insurance industry lobbyists, pharmaceutical lobbyists and business. They are pushing for more of the same policies that have brought our health quality down, excluded millions of people and brought millions more into medical bankruptcy. If our reform is left up to these players, we will be mandated to purchase insurance without guarantee that insurance will be affordable or actually pay for needed health care. If our reform is left up to these players, insurance companies will continue to rake in enormous profits at the expense of patients’ lives.