Doctors Protest Exclusion of Single-Payer at Senate Finance Committee

For Immediate Release

Single Payer Advocates
Contact: 

Russell Mokhiber, Single Payer Action, (202) 468-8868, russellmokhiber@gmail.com
Katie Robbins, Healthcare-NOW! (330) 618-6379, healthcarenow08@gmail.com
Margaret Flowers, M.D., Physicians for a National Health Program – Maryland chapter, (410) 591-0892, nose1@aol.com
Kevin Zeese, ProsperityAgenda.us, (301) 996-6582, kzeese@earthlink.net

Doctors Protest Exclusion of Single-Payer at Senate Finance Committee

WASHINGTON -  Doctors and other advocates of a national single-payer health system –
also known as an improved Medicare for All – directly confronted
senators at a Senate Finance Committee “roundtable” on health reform
today.

One-by-one, eight single-payer advocates in the audience stood up
during the opening comments of the hearing and asked why single-payer
experts were being excluded from the proceedings. They each spoke out
in turn until they were removed from the committee hearing room,
one-by-one, by U.S. Capitol police.

The doctors and others said that a publicly funded, privately delivered
single-payer system is the only solution to the crisis plaguing our
nation’s non-system of health care, noting that single-payer national
health insurance would guarantee coverage for everyone and contains
costs.

Despite polling that shows a clear majority of public and physician
support for a single-payer system, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of
the Senate Finance Committee, has stated on multiple occasions that
single payer is “off the table” of health reform.

Today’s round table, the second of three, consisted of 15 witnesses
with no single-payer advocates among them. By contrast, several
witnesses have direct ties to the for-profit, private health insurance
industry.

The doctors and activists were dressed in black, which they said was in
memory of the 22,000 people who die every year due to lack of health
insurance. They represented a coalition of single-payer advocacy
organizations including Physicians for a National Health Program
(PNHP), Healthcare-NOW, Single Payer Action, Private Health Insurance
Must Go, the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, Prosperity
Agenda, and Health Care for the Homeless.

“Health insurance administrators are practicing medicine without a
medical license,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-chair of Maryland
chapter of PNHP. “The result is the suffering and death of thousands of
patients for the sake of private profit. The private health insurance
industry has a solid grip on patients, providers and legislators. It is
time to stand up and declare that health care is a human right.”

Much to the frustration of Baucus, the multiple disruptions demanding
single-payer be on the table set the tone for the second of three
roundtables on Health Reform by the Senate Finance Committee.

Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW, said:
“The current discussion on health reform is political theater at its
best. Our elected officials are hosting these events to go through the
motions of what developing effective national health policy should look
like. There is a big difference between getting health policy experts
in the room and the witnesses here today who would profit the most from
reform. That difference means our hard-earned dollars will go to
further insurance industry profits, not to guarantee health care to the
American people.”

“It’s a pretty spectacular display of raw political power,” said
Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “The health insurance industry
demands that not one of the 15 people who testified today shall be a
single-payer advocate. And the industry gets what it wants. It’s time
for the American people to storm the gates and demand – put single
payer on the table.”

Single payer is successfully implemented in the United States’ own
Medicare system providing comprehensive care to the elderly, as well as
in many of the best health care systems in the world. A single-payer
system, as embodied in legislation H.R. 676 and S. 703, would provide
guaranteed, quality care to all Americans with no increase in U.S.
health spending.

The single-payer advocates said they will continue to use direct
actions and nonviolent civil disobedience to urge the inclusion of a
publicly funded, privately delivered system.

Other methods of communication with elected officials have failed in
delivering the demand for single-payer national health care as
evidenced by the exclusion of single-payer advocates from official
hearings on health reform.

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Healthcare-NOW! is a national grassroots advocacy organization in
support of single-payer national health care with a network of
activists in 42 states. More information can be found at www.healthcare-now.org

Single Payer Action is a nonprofit activist fueled organization. Find out more at www.singlepayeraction.org

Maryland Chapter Physicians for a National Health Program is a chapter
of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and
education organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students and
health professionals who support single-payer national health
insurance. More information can be found at www.md.pnhp.org

Prosperity Agenda includes single payer national health care as one of
the policy changes needed to create an economy that benefits all
Americans, not just the wealthiest. www.prosperityagenda.us. Prosperity Agenda is an economic justice project associated with The Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics (www.FreshAirCleanPolitics.net

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