portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements united states


Doctors Arrested at Senate "Roundtable" on Healthcare

Doctors and other advocates of a national single-payer health system --
also known as improved Medicare for All -- directly confronted senators
at a Senate Finance Committee "roundtable" on health reform today.
Videos are available here  http://www.singlepayeraction.org and C-SPAN
coverage is at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/05/05-6 .
One by one, single-payer advocates in the audience stood up and asked
why single-payer experts were being excluded from the proceedings. They
each spoke out in turn until they were removed from the committee
hearing room by Capitol police, at which point another person would
speak up. Eight were arrested.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has
stated on multiple occasions that single payer is "off the table" of
health reform. As advocates spoke up today, he joked that he needed more

Today's roundtable, the second of three, consisted of 15 witnesses with
no single-payer advocates among them. By contrast, several witnesses
have direct ties to the for-profit, private health insurance industry.

Among the single-payer advocates who spoke up at the hearing, several
have been released from custody this afternoon and are now available for

MARGARET FLOWERS, MD,  nose1@aol.com,  http://www.md.pnhp.org,
Flowers, who is co-chair of the Maryland chapter of Physicians for a
National Health Program (a national organization of 16,000 physicians,
medical students and health professionals who support single-payer
national health insurance), said today: "Health insurance administrators
are practicing medicine without a medical license. The result is the
suffering and death of thousands of patients for the sake of private
After Flowers and others where removed from the hearing room, Baucus
stated that he "deeply respected" their views while "orderly process"
was needed. Flowers said: "We tried the orderly process, we contacted
the senators, and they excluded us. The first person who spoke up noted
that there were doctors who could testify -- and they arrested him."

RUSSELL MOKHIBER,  russellmokhiber@gmail.com,
Founder of Single Payer Action, Mokhiber said today: "It's a pretty
spectacular display of raw political power. The health insurance
industry demands that not one of the 15 people who testified today shall
be a single-payer advocate. And the industry gets what it wants. It's
time for the American people to storm the gates and demand -- put
single payer on the table."

KATIE ROBBINS,  healthcarenow08@gmail.com,  http://www.healthcare-now.org
Assistant national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW, a grassroots
advocacy organization in support of single-payer national health care
with a network of activists in 42 states, said today: "The current
discussion on health reform is political theater at its best. Our
elected officials are hosting these events to go through the motions of
what developing effective national health policy should look like. There
is a big difference between getting health policy experts in the room
and the witnesses here today who would profit the most from reform. That
difference means our hard-earned dollars will go to further insurance
industry profits, not to guarantee health care to the American people."

homepage: homepage: http://www.singlepayeraction.org/

Of Course 06.May.2009 09:24

Den Mark, Vancouver

Of course the protesters were arrested. Because democracy does not exist in this country, & protesters have no recourse but to stand up on our own. Of course the protesters were arrested. Because "change" from republican to democrat was change in name only. Of course the protesters were arrested. Because congress is owned by the aristocracy, & we peasants are needed only as consumers & temp workers, not as governors.

800-270-0309, capitol switchboard, ask for senate finance committee.

And please report back what you're told. I, for example, was told today by a committee staff person that u.s. chamber of commerce was at the hearing to represent me. Yes. That is what a paid senate finance committee staff person told me, that u.s. chamber of commerce was at the hearing for me. Astonishingly stupid, but that is what we're dealing with in DC, our lovely DC, where morons gather & get to pass laws & stuff.


Can you see the protestors? 06.May.2009 09:29


Thank god for CSpan, but I notice even CSpan did not put any cameras on the protestors, or at least I couldn't see them in the video. You could hear them at least and they really made their point. I think Baucus was forced to say something conciliatory since the cameras were there, but who cares about his remark that he "cares deeply"--his comments are as empty as all the other rhetoric from congress. Someone called in to Thomm Hartman recently and said we need to throw them all out. Thomm and Bernie Sanders responded that democracy works so we should calm down and just keep voting and supporting the good guys. Who are the good guys? And does it matter if the majority are bad? Money is what matters in the halls of congress and until that flow stops, democracy is just a word, vacuous and useful for keeping the people from revolting.

From Ralph Nader 06.May.2009 11:23


Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up to Senator Max Baucus.

And the private health insurance industry.

And the corporate liberals in Congress.

The eight activists demanded that single payer - everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital - be put on the table.

And as a result they were arrested.

And charged with a so-called "disruption of Congress."

The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Politico, Democracy Now and National Public Radio all carried stories about the protest.

C-Span carried it live.

And it was widely disseminated on the Internet.

Baucus crafted a hearing to kick off the health care debate in the Senate yesterday where 15 witnesses would be at the table to discuss health care reform.

The insurance industry was at the table.

The Business Roundtable was at the table.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was at the table.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was at the table.

The Heritage Foundation was at the table.

And corporate liberals like Andy Stern, Ron Pollack, and AARP were at the table.

But not one person who stood for what the majority of Americans, doctors, nurses, and health economists want - single payer - was at the table.

Not one.

When I heard about this corporate line-up last week, I called the office of Senator Baucus.

And politely asked that, as a matter of fairness, a single payer doctor be allowed to testify.

I was told - no way, Ralph.

The deal is done.

So, yesterday, at 10 a.m., the Baucus Eight, led by Single Payer Action and other single payer groups, took to the Senate Finance Committee.

And directly and respectfully confronted a room full of corporate lobbyists.

And corporate controlled Senators.

And again asked that a group of doctors who were in the room to support Medicare for all be allowed to testify.

The answer again - no, no, and no.

Remember what Senator Richard Durbin said last week?

Durbin said that the banks "own" the Congress.

To which we might add - the health insurance industry and the drug industry own the Senate.

Faxing, writing, and e-mailing is not getting it done.

Enough is enough.

Time for action.

This is a winnable issue.

But the American people need to focus on 535 members of Congress.

And get mobilized.

Single Payer Action is at your service to get the job done.

So, donate now -- $8, $18, $80, or $800.

To honor the Baucus Eight - who all wore black yesterday in memory of the more than 20,000 Americans who - according to the Institute of Medicine - die every year from lack of health insurance.

And to fuel a citizen action movement that will deliver single payer to the American people - sooner not later.

Together, we can break the corporate stranglehold on Congress.

And deliver health care for all.

Single payer.

More comprehensive. More efficient. More humane. More peace of mind.

Let's get it done.

Onward to single payer,

Ralph Nader