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Citizens and Health Care Providers Participate in Sit-Ins, Risk Arrest at Health Insurance Offices in Oover a Dozen US Cities
Almost 700 have signed up to risk arrest as part of a national mobilization to end insurance abuse and win health care for all
WASHINGTON - October 5 - Citizens and health care providers who are fed up with the state of our health care system will risk arrest in over a dozen cities this week and on Thursday, October 15. The sit-ins are part of a national mobilization to end insurance abuse and build support for real health care reform - Medicare for All, a single payer plan. The mobilization involves civil disobedience at insurance company offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and other cities. Almost 700 people have already signed up to risk arrest at a health insurance company office as one of the largest campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience since the civil rights movement.
The mobilization was launched last week when 17 people were arrested at an Aetna office in downtown New York City (read New York Times city blog write-up). Participants in the sit-in wore T-shirts with slogans that read "Medicare for All" and chanting "patients, not profits!" They linked arms and sat down in the lobby of the building, demanding that the reviewers immediately approve all doctor-recommended lifesaving treatments, holding signs saying "Aetna is the real death panel."
"Hundreds of people die each day because insurance companies deny them lifesaving care that they need," said Marilena Marchetti, 29, a resident of Gold Coast, Chicago, who is participating in a sit-in at a Cigna office in Chicago this week. "I'm willing to put myself on the line for them. We need Medicare for All, a single payer plan."
The sit-ins are part of the Patients Not Profit campaign of the Mobilization for Health Care for All. The mobilization was launched by the organizations Prosperity Agenda, Healthcare-NOW!, and the Center for the Working Poor. The vast majority of the funding for this campaign comes from individual supporters and small donors all across the country.
"At this critical juncture in the national health care debate, we are highlighting deaths and suffering caused by insurance company denials. In some states 20% of all doctor-approved health care recommendations are denied by insurance companies. People are dying because these corporations put profits before patients," said Katie Robbins of Healthcare-NOW!
Participants in the actions will point out that we need a system that addresses the real cause of the health care crisis, the insurance companies.
"As long as the for-profit health insurance companies are still calling the shots, and are still denying care and coverage to people, the system is going to continue in a downward spiral," said Ken Bing, 54, a resident of Queens, New York, and a licensed physical therapist who was arrested at the sit-in in New York last week. "I think Medicare for All, a single payer plan, is the solution."
Bing has been a physical therapist at a major clinical facility in Brooklyn, New York, for 20 years. He says that too many times he has found himself arguing with insurance companies in order to provide the care that he knows a patient needs.
"On a day-to-day basis, there are barriers being put up between what our clinical judgment is and what is covered by the insurance company," said Bing. "We are the only industrialized democracy that doesn't provide universal health care. A single-payer plan would save time and money so we could provide health care for all."
Experts agree that the current health care bill is not helping.
"The Democratic health care bill is a giveaway to the insurance industry. Tens of millions of Americans will be forced to buy overpriced insurance, which will result in hundreds of billions in new annual revenue for the insurance industry," said Kevin Zeese, executive director of Prosperity Agenda. "A Medicare for All system would cover all Americans, unlike the Dem proposal which will leave tens of millions without coverage, and would reduce the cost of health care immediately saving $400 billion annually in insurance company profits, executive salaries and bureaucracy."