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Single Payer Docs Arrested Outside Baltimore Hotel While Obama Speaking to Republicans

by Russell Mokhiber

Two single payer doctors were arrested this morning outside the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel where President Obama was scheduled to speak to a retreat of House Republicans.

Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris (Photo Credit: Bill Hughes) Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris were carrying a sign that said: Just Letting You Know: Medicare for All.

"We were on the hotel property holding our sign," Dr. Flowers said. "The Secret Service said we had to go across the street. We said we would go across the street if our letter was delivered to the President. The Secret Service said that wasn't possible. They said if we didn't go across the street we would be arrested. We refused to leave because we didn't want to continue to be excluded, marginalized and ignored. And they arrested us."

Flowers and Paris were taken to the Central Police headquarters.

They were separately questioned by the Secret Service.

The Baltimore Police charged them with trespass and they were released.

"Every time they said - if you just go across the street, everything will be fine," Dr. Paris said. "And we would respond - that is the problem. We are always asked to go across the street. And nothing changes. This is putting into practice what Howard Zinn taught us. Go where you are not supposed to be. And say what you are not supposed to say. And that's what we were doing."

(See Bill Hughes video here.)

Dr. Flowers went to the White House yesterday to deliver a letter to Obama asking him to consider a single payer, Medicare for all health care system.

She was turned away at the gate and told that for security reasons, the White House doesn't accept hand delivered letters.

During his State of the Union speech on Wednesday, Obama said he wanted to hear from people on a better approach to health care reform that will "bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses."

"Let me know, let me know, let me know. I'm eager to see it," Obama said.

Flowers, Paris and the majority of doctors and nurses in America believe that approach is a single payer national health insurance system.

Obama himself, when he was a state Senator in Illinois in 2003, said single payer was the way to go.

But last year, he cut deals with the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries in a now failed attempt to get through tinkering reforms.

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