Police eject protesters from Senate health hearing
WASHINGTON - Police have ejected five doctors and nurses who back government-run health care after they disrupted a Senate hearing. Dozens of others protested outside.
The protesters says supporters of government-run health care are being excluded from congressional debate. The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday to debate how to pay for overhauling the nation's health care system.
At the start of the hearing more than a dozen nurses stood in silent protest and turned their backs on Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus as he spoke. They had signs attached to the back of their shirts supporting single-payer — or government-run — health care and protesting industry influence.
After they left, five others stood up, spoke in favor of single-payer, and were taken out by Capitol Police.
Health care protesters disrupt Senate panel
For second week in a row
By Sean Lengell (Contact) | Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Protesters supporting universal medical coverage for the second week in a row on Tuesday morning disrupted a Senate hearing on health care reform before being thrown out by police.
Minutes after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus opened a roundtable discussion on how to pay for overhauling the nation's health care system, several demonstrators stood up one by one and shouted their disapproval that lawmakers have refused to consider a government take over of the health insurance system.
"No more blue crosses and double crosses," shouted one demonstrator in reference to health insurance giant Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
"In honor of Florence Nightingale, patients need access to health care," shouted another.
Police removed five protesters from the hearing room at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
As Mr. Baucus gaveled the meeting open, about 25 nurses wearing red hospital scrubs attached with signs advocating a so called "single payer" government-run health care system conducted a silent protest. After a few minutes with their backs turned to the chairman, the demonstrators walked out of the room while several in the audience applauded.
Mr. Baucus, a Montana Democrat shepherding President Obama's health care reform priorities through Congress, said that although he disagreed with the protesters tactics, he sympathized with their frustrations.
"Believe me, we hear you," he said. "I will meet with anyone who wants to meet."
The chairman, as well as the Obama administration, have said that replacing the current private health insurance system with a Canadian-style government-run single payer model is not practical or politically feasible. But both support creating a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
"We've got to work with what we've got," Mr. Baucus said. "We cannot go to a single payer system, but that's not going to work in this country."
Eight protesters supporting a single payer system were arrested last week at a Baucus-lead health care roundtable workshop.