Probation Ends for Baucus 8. Group Vows: “The Fight Will Continue Until Every Person in Our Nation Has Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care.'

For Immediate Release

Single-Payer Activists
Contact: 

Kevin Zeese  301-996-6582,kzeese@earthlink.net
Mark Dudzic     201-314-2653, mdudzic@thelaborparty.org
Margaret Flowers, M.D.  410-591-0892, mdpnhp@gmail.com
Russell Mokhiber     202-468-8868, russellmokhiber@gmail.com
Carol Paris, M.D. 301-904-6210, caparis52@hotmail.com
Katie Robbins     212-475-8350, healthcarenow08@gmail.com
Pat Salomon-Rodriguez, M.D., drpatsalomon@aol.com
Adam Schneider   410-215-8319, aschneider@hchmd.org

Probation Ends for Baucus 8. Group Vows: “The Fight Will Continue Until Every Person in Our Nation Has Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care.'

WASHINGTON - Members of the Baucus 8 appeared at the
H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse today for their final hearing following 6 months
of probation and, for 3 members, 40 hours of community service.  The Baucus 8, all of whom are doctors or
health advocates, were arrested in the Senate Finance Committee Health Care
Roundtable on May 5th for standing up and asking why single payer
advocates were not allowed to testify.

Dr.
Pat Solomon, a retired pediatrician noted that, “When we looked at the list of
41 people testifying in the 3 days of Roundtables, we saw that not a single
witness was an advocate of the principle that healthcare should be a fundamental
human right for all in America, nor was there anyone to speak for the majority
of the American people who support single payer/Medicare for
All.”

Senator
Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, convened the May Roundtable to
kick off the public consideration of the 111th Congress’ legislative proposals
for healthcare reform. The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, a
coalition of nurses, doctors, labor, faith, health advocate and community groups
representing over 20 million people nationwide, sent a request to the Finance
Committee for one of their leaders testify. When this was denied, thousands of
single payer supporters across the nation contacted the committee to request
that single payer be included.

“Despite
the outpouring of requests,” said Katie Robbins of Healthcare-Now.org, “we were
clearly told that we would be excluded. This cemented our growing impression
that the healthcare debate was at best, political theater, and that we would
have to try a different tactic in order that the only really affordable health
reform solution, that addresses the real health care needs of 100% of our nation
be heard.”

Kevin
Zeese of ProsperityAgenda.US called the committee “pay to play” because, as he
said, “Every seat at the Roundtable was bought by the lobbyists. Senator Baucus
received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the health industry in
2008 and the entire Senate Finance Committee received over $13 million in
2008.”

“Congress
and the White House keep calling the medical industry corporations the ‘stakeholders’ in this reform
process,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program
(PNHP), “But we know that the true stakeholders are those who provide and
receive medical care, not those who profit off the current
situation.”

"After
we were arrested, Senator Baucus admitted that it was a mistake to take single
payer off the table," said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. "Clearly it
was. Both the House and Senate bills would require Americans to buy a junk
insurance at an inflated price. This bill is a bailout of the insurance
industry. Instead of bailing out the private insurance companies, we ought to
get rid of them and replace them with one public insurance pool. Everybody in,
nobody out. Congress ought to defeat this monstrosity, start from scratch and
pass single payer. We will get single payer sooner or later. Better
sooner."


Wendell Potter, formerly of CIGNA and Humana (not a
member of the Baucus 8) calls this legislation  ‘The
Private Health Insurance Profit Protection and Enhancement Act,’” stated Dr.
Carol Paris, also of PNHP and a practicing physician in Southern Maryland. “And we agree because the final
legislation will benefit the medical corporations, further strengthening their
ability to buy members of Congress, and will continue the expensive and
complicated health situation that we have in this country right now which makes
it difficult for patients and doctors to focus on health
care.”

In
fact, as an
example of the revolving door between those who are lobbyists and those who are
staff, Liz Fowler, former Vice President of Public Policy at Wellpoint, one of
the largest health insurers in the nation, left her lucrative position to work
as the point person in the Senate Finance Committee to oversee the legislation.
Her name is cited as author of the Senate Finance Bill.

Mark
Dudzic of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer said the group’s action has been
vindicated by the subsequent actions in the Senate.  “The current deplorable proposals for
healthcare reform under consideration in Congress show what happens when you
start bargaining by conceding all of the terrain to your opponent. Any shop
steward in America would have done a better job
than the leaders of the political party in control of overwhelming majorities in
both houses of congress.”

In
addition to probation, the prosecutor insisted that the three defendants who
lived in the Washington,
DC area also perform 40 hours of
community service. “I spend every day serving my community,” said Adam Schneider
who is employed by Health Care for the Homeless. “I’m proud of the stand we took
and had no problem doing an extra 40 hours of service to my community. But if
there was any justice in the world, Senator Baucus and his corporate sponsors
would have also been required to spend 40 hours with my clients to understand
their desperate need for access to healthcare before they give a $500 billion
bailout to the private health insurance industry.”

The
group is unanimous that no matter what passes this year, health care reform is
not over in this nation. Patients will continue to suffer and die needlessly,
families will continue to face bankruptcy and foreclosure because of medical
debt until we have a national publicly-financed and privately-delivered  single payer/Medicare for all health
system. Such a system would be transparent and accountable to the people unlike
the current situation in which private insurers are experts at hiding
information from the public and at violating their own written rules without
recourse.

This year saw tremendous growth in a
national movement for Medicare for all. The Baucus 8 vow to continue to do
whatever it takes, even facing arrest again, to get an honest and open-minded
debate about what type of health system is best so that people in this nation
can be healthy and productive and stop worrying about what they will do if
accident or illness strikes. 

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