SUNRISE - Two people were arrested early this afternoon when they refused a request to leave during a demonstration outside the Cigna health insurance offices in Sunrise.
The two were part of a group of about 20 demonstrators protesting Cigna
for what they called unfair denial of benefits to sick customers. The
demonstration was part of a nationwide effort organized by the
Mobilization for Health Care for All, an advocacy group calling for a
national, single-payer health care system. Related demonstrations were
held in 18 other cities, including San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.
The same group recently organized a similar sit-in outside Humana offices in West Palm Beach.
The demonstration at Cigna today was peaceful and cordial, with
protesters standing outside the building and several Sunrise police
officers keeping them from approaching the lobby.
When John Garcia, who represents the building's management, read a
statement asking demonstrators to leave the private property, Sunrise
Police Lt. Anthony Rosa warned that he would make arrests. All but two
demonstrators went back to their cars.
Arrested were Robert Walz, 59, of Hallandale Beach, and Rogelio Marquina, 72, of Miami-Dade County.
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Organizer Al Rogers said the willingness of people across the country
to subject themselves to arrest could be a precursor to larger
demonstrations in the future if Congress doesn't pass health reform
that includes a public option that takes effect within a year.
"America can't wait for this," said Rogers. "It's got to be done now."
Cigna spokesman Chris Curran said the company is in favor of health
reform but questioned the value of demonstrations that have targeted
Cigna and other health insurance providers.
"Incidents such as these are not constructive and do nothing to further
everyone's goal of providing all Americans with access to quality,
affordable health care coverage," he said. "We remain committed to
collaborating with Congress and all involved to arrive at a long-term
solution that will ensure our health care system will benefit all
health insurance offices in Sunrise.