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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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."