Doctors Risking Arrest for Healthcare for All, Challenge System That Makes Them Complicit

At least three doctors will be risking arrest in civil disobedience actions during Mobilization for Healthcare for All's
third wave of actions this week, which are being held to demand an end
to insurance abuse and to demand real health care reform for all.

Ken
Weinberg, who will be risking arrest at the Wellpoint Offices in New
York City, says it dawned on him that this is a moral issue, he needs
to be out there, and he is risking arrest because he doesn't know what
else to do.
"I've
met with my senators and congressman and nothing works," says Weinberg.
"I think what really pushed me over was the new study that came out
from Harvard that showed that 45,000 people die each year because they
don't have health insurance and that to me is criminal."

Weinberg
adds, "Our elected representatives are so in the pockets of the
insurance companies that they're not doing anything. They're not
responsive to the American people. So, this is a wake up call to them
as well. "

Matt
Hendrickson, who will be risking arrest at the Cigna Offices in
Glendale near downtown Los Angeles, says he's "inspired by the people
that have already gotten arrested in the last three weeks."

"They're just as angry as I am by how the private insurance industry is ruining our healthcare system," says Hendrickson.

Additionally,
Hendrickson cites the fact that 50 percent of his patients either have
no insurance or they are underinsured, being a self-employed doctor
whose premiums are going up 15% a year, and previous human rights
movements (civil rights, anti-war, self-determination, etc) as reasons
for being willing to risk arrest.

Margaret
Flowers, who will be risking arrest at Carefirst Blue Cross/Blue Shield
in Baltimore, Maryland on Thursday, explains that as the Senate Finance
Committee hearing started hearings on health care single-payer
advocates were excluded. This really showed Flowers that America's
democratic process was not in tact and functioning.

She
explains at the first meeting "there were 41 people that testified.
They had AHIP, Pharma, and Big Business " but nobody was there "that
really represented the health providers and the patient's point of
view." And, there definitely was no person advocating for a national
health care program.
So, at the second Finance Committee hearing on May 5th, she and other single payer advocates showed up at the hearing to ask why their voices weren't being included in the debate.

Since
the spring, there has been an effort to discount and outright ignore
the single-payer action movement that has been carrying out several
campaigns to push back against anti-health care reform agendas and
improve any reform that may funnel or divert money into the hands of
insurance companies for profits instead of patient care.

Despite
snubs from Democrats and Obama, the single-payer action movement has
momentum and is why the public option is being considered.
"The
reason why the public option was introduced, according to congress
people that have spoken to the single-payer movement, was because of
the single-payer movement," says Hendrickson. "There was such an
upswell [by progressives] for single-payer that [leaders] opted for
some compromise that would not have been given if there wasn't so much
support for single-payer."

So,
why are progressives settling for incremental change? Why are they
settling for a public option that has proven to be a failure in states
like Tennessee, Oregon, and Massachusetts?

With
the public option now being outfitted with an opt-out provision, with
leaders doing everything they can to make sure the option will fail to
compete with insurance companies, and with Sen. Joe Lieberman publicly
declaring that he has no problem with obstructing a vote on health care
on behalf of for-profit insurers, isn't it time to up the ante?

And isn't it time for more doctors and nurses to come out of the woodwork for real healthcare reform?

"We
swore an oath when we finished our medical school and part of that was
to practice our professional dignity and honor and to keep the health
of our patients first and foremost," says Flowers. "So, how can we
continue to be silent in the face of a private insurance market-based
model of healthcare which is literally killing our patients?"

"We're
all complicit in this. We're forced to be complicit," says Weinberg.
"What we want is patient care. We want the best possible patient care
for people and we are constantly having to play games to skirt around
what the insurance companies are forcing us to do."

Or, as Hendrickson so eloquently puts it:

"It
is a personal decision and everybody knows when it's the right time to
make that sacrifice. Doctors do have an enormous moral authority in our
society. And when you see physicians that advocate for a status quo
approach that the American Medical Association has basically pushed, it
really hurts our image as physicians.

We
as physicians have a noble duty to care for our patients. And to be
given an opportunity to make a relatively small sacrifice ---spend a
few hours, maybe a night in jail--- in exchange for bringing this issue
of the private insurance industry and how much harm they're doing to
medicine [to the forefront]--- I think it's a phenomenal opportunity.

And,
Hendrickson hopes the physicians getting arrested tomorrow and others
planning to be arrested in the next wave in November will give "more
confidence, more motivation, more inspiration to follow suit because so
many of us know how badly the insurance industry is harming our ability
to practice medicine."

Flowers
is a pediatrician and mother who quit her practice a few years ago to
educate legislators, colleagues, and others on real healthcare reform.

Weinberg
is an emergency care physician who has been practicing for twenty-five
years and who has been advocating for single-payer for fifteen years.

Hendrickson is a self-employed doctor.

Each of these doctors will be participating in actions, which will occur Wednesday, October 28th or Thursday, October 29th.

MobilizeforHealthcare.org will post updates on the actions as they are received.

To
join or support the campaign that is motivating doctors to risk arrest,
visit Mobilization for Health Care for All and sign up today.