The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Edward Crouse, (773) 301-7468, 

Lacy MacAuley, (202) 445-4692,

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Seven Arrested at Chicago Cigna Health Insurance Office Calling for End to Denial of Treatment, Real Health Care Reform

Sit-in is part of a national mobilization to end insurance abuse and win health care for all


Seven citizens and health care providers who are fed up with the state of our health care and the health care debate were arrest at the downtown offices of Cigna today. The sit-in is part of a national mobilization to end insurance abuse and build support for real 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, joining one of the largest campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience since the civil rights movement. Many of these event are occurring next week on Thursday, October 15 in a dozen cities across the country.

The seven participants walked into the lobby and demanded to speak with the CEO of Cigna, demanding immediate approval of all doctor-recommended treatments. When access was refused, they sat down in the lobby of the building, Chanting "patients, not profits," and "Cigna is the real death panel." They put themselves on the line for people who die every day because an insurance company denies them the care that they need, and are calling for real reform, which eliminates the real cause of the health care crisis in our country, the insurance companies.

Participants in the rally outside the health insurance office included Mary E. Flowers, State Representative of the 31st district, and Midge Hough, a Chicago resident whose daughter-in-law Jenny died five weeks ago as a result of inadequate care. Jenny was seven and a half months pregnant and diagnosed with acute pneumonia. Carrying a sign with a picture of Jenny on it, Hough encourages others to stand up for quality health care for all.

"We lost Jennifer, and we lost our grandchild. She can't speak up for herself anymore, but I'm going to speak for Jennifer," said Hough while standing outside the Cigna office. "Tomorrow is her memorial service or I would have been one of the people sitting inside... This is the richest country in the world and my daughter in law and my grandchild died, and I can't accept that."

Participants in today's sit-in are part of a national mobilization which will be one of the largest campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience in the US since the civil rights movement. Next week, citizens and health care providers will participate in sit-ins in Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Cleveland, Portland, and many other cities across the country. Most participants in these actions have signed up just in the past ten days, and are coming out of the woodwork to stand for an end to insurance abuse and win health care for all.

"Hundreds of people die each day because insurance companies deny them lifesaving care that they need," said Marilena Marchetti, 29, an occupational therapist and a resident of Gold Coast, Chicago, who was arrested at today's sit-in. "I put myself on the line for them. We need a system that places patients before profit."

The sit-in is 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 local group that organized today's activities is the Chicago Single Payer Action Network (Chi-SPAN), a group of individuals committed to health care for all.

"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!

Experts agree that the current health care bill is not helping.

"The health care bill currently being debated in Congress 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."