by JEFF MUCKENSTURM
On the same day that the Senate Finance Committee rejected including a public option in their health insurance bill, seventeen single-payer supporters were arrested at Aetna's New York City offices to kickoff a national campaign of civil disobedience targeted at the private health insurance industry.
The campaign, called Mobilization for Health Care for All , initiated by Healthcare-NOW!, Prosperity Agenda, and the Center for the Working Poor, already has over 500 people willing to risk arrest to demand an end to a system that profits by denying people care by removing private insurance from the system and replacing it with improved Medicare for all. Similar actions are being planned all over the country, including next week in Chicago.
The 17 participants in New York City, wearing T-shirts with slogans that read “Medicare for All” and chanting “Patients, not profits!,” linked arms and sat down in the lobby of the Aetna building, prompting Aetna employees to step around them on their way into their offices, where insurance claim reviewers are busy looking for ways to deny people the lifesaving treatment that they need. A crowd of supporters picketing outside the building held signs that said “Aetna is the real death panel,” and “Single-payer now.”
Participants in the action demanded that the insurance company immediately approve all doctor-recommended lifesaving treatments in their files, stating that they would not leave until Aetna approved care. Aetna, however, refused to meet with their representative.
This is the second arrest of non-violent, single-payer supporters at a private health insurance company office building in recent months. Nine were arrested at Wellmark's offices in Des Moines, Iowa this summer.
To join the campaign, or learn more, go to www.mobilizeforhealthcare.org.
Jeff Muckensturm is Web Coordinator and grant writer for Healthcare-NOW!, an organization fighting for a national, single-payer healthcare system