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 and C-SPAN coverage is here.
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 police.
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 interviews:
MARGARET FLOWERS, MD
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 profit.”
After Flowers and others were 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.”
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.”
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.”
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167