Group Vows: “The Fight will continue until every person in our nation has access to quality, affordable health care.”

Washington, D.C. – Members of the Baucus 8 appeared at the H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse today for their final hearing following 6 months of probation and, for 3 members, 40 hours of community service. The Baucus 8, all of whom are doctors or health advocates, were arrested in the Senate Finance Committee Health Care Roundtable on May 5th for standing up and asking why single payer advocates were not allowed to testify.

Dr. Pat Solomon, a retired pediatrician noted that, “When we looked at the list of 41 people testifying in the 3 days of Roundtables, we saw that not a single witness was an advocate of the principle that healthcare should be a fundamental human right for all in America, nor was there anyone to speak for the majority of the American people who support single payer/Medicare for All.”

Senator Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, convened the May Roundtable to kick off the public consideration of the 111th Congress’ legislative proposals for healthcare reform. The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, a coalition of nurses, doctors, labor, faith, health advocate and community groups representing over 20 million people nationwide, sent a request to the Finance Committee for one of their leaders testify. When this was denied, thousands of single payer supporters across the nation contacted the committee to request that single payer be included.

“Despite the outpouring of requests,” said Katie Robbins of Healthcare-Now.org, “we were clearly told that we would be excluded. This cemented our growing impression that the healthcare debate was at best, political theater, and that we would have to try a different tactic in order that the only really affordable health reform solution, that addresses the real health care needs of 100% of our nation be heard.”

Kevin Zeese of ProsperityAgenda.US called the committee “pay to play” because, as he said, “Every seat at the Roundtable was bought by the lobbyists. Senator Baucus received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the health industry in 2008 and the entire Senate Finance Committee received over $13 million in 2008.”

“Congress and the White House keep calling the medical industry corporations the ‘stakeholders’ in this reform process,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), “But we know that the true stakeholders are those who provide and receive medical care, not those who profit off the current situation.”

“After we were arrested, Senator Baucus admitted that it was a mistake to take single payer off the table,” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “Clearly it was. Both the House and Senate bills would require Americans to buy a junk insurance at an inflated price. This bill is a bailout of the insurance industry. Instead of bailing out the private insurance companies, we ought to get rid of them and replace them with one public insurance pool. Everybody in, nobody out. Congress ought to defeat this monstrosity, start from scratch and pass single payer. We will get single payer sooner or later. Better sooner.”

“ Wendell Potter, formerly of CIGNA and Humana (not a member of the Baucus 8) calls this legislation ‘The Private Health Insurance Profit Protection and Enhancement Act,’” stated Dr. Carol Paris, also of PNHP and a practicing physician in Southern Maryland. “And we agree because the final legislation will benefit the medical corporations, further strengthening their ability to buy members of Congress, and will continue the expensive and complicated health situation that we have in this country right now which makes it difficult for patients and doctors to focus on health care.”

In fact, as an example of the revolving door between those who are lobbyists and those who are staff, Liz Fowler, former Vice President of Public Policy at Wellpoint, one of the largest health insurers in the nation, left her lucrative position to work as the point person in the Senate Finance Committee to oversee the legislation. Her name is cited as author of the Senate Finance Bill.

Mark Dudzic of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer said the group’s action has been vindicated by the subsequent actions in the Senate. “The current deplorable proposals for healthcare reform under consideration in Congress show what happens when you start bargaining by conceding all of the terrain to your opponent. Any shop steward in America would have done a better job than the leaders of the political party in control of overwhelming majorities in both houses of congress.”

In addition to probation, the prosecutor insisted that the three defendants who lived in the Washington, DC area also perform 40 hours of community service. “I spend every day serving my community,” said Adam Schneider who is employed by Health Care for the Homeless. “I’m proud of the stand we took and had no problem doing an extra 40 hours of service to my community. But if there was any justice in the world, Senator Baucus and his corporate sponsors would have also been required to spend 40 hours with my clients to understand their desperate need for access to healthcare before they give a $500 billion bailout to the private health insurance industry.”

The group is unanimous that no matter what passes this year, health care reform is not over in this nation. Patients will continue to suffer and die needlessly, families will continue to face bankruptcy and foreclosure because of medical debt until we have a national publicly-financed and privately-delivered single payer/Medicare for all health system. Such a system would be transparent and accountable to the people unlike the current situation in which private insurers are experts at hiding information from the public and at violating their own written rules without recourse.

This year saw tremendous growth in a national movement for Medicare for all. The Baucus 8 vow to continue to do whatever it takes, even facing arrest again, to get an honest and open-minded debate about what type of health system is best so that people in this nation can be healthy and productive and stop worrying about what they will do if accident or illness strikes.

13 Comments

  1. Scott Forslund on January 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I wish we’d simply took one message and repeated it endlessly: Medicare for All is $8000 per family private insurance will be $15,000 + which do you want? Basic math to even a town hall crier or tea bagger. We never brought the general public into the discussion, who tuned out due to the complexity of presentation and bald faced lies. Apologists for this scam of a legislative effort toss out the “We will insure millions of the uninsured” They are allowing “The good to enable the greed” to paraphrase the stumpy little man whose behind the scenes wrangling brought us this economy destroying bill. We’ve lost much of our competitive edge in the world-galvanizing into place a broken system that wastes over 30 cents of every dollar as insurers do while ignoring the incredibly efficient system in place-medicare- is simply criminal. Thailand’s minister of health studied the worlds many systems of health care delivery and settled on a model of our medicare. Why? Because they want their country to succeed while democrats here passed a money laundering bill to wash our tax dollars and earnings thru insurers and directly back to them thru lobbyist bribery. We, those who busted our backs getting these dolts all three houses, have been pimped out in reverse and we don’t even get to choose the corner they’ll soon force us to work in paying their expensive johns the insurance industr



  2. Chris on January 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    The Bacaus Eight are HEROES!



  3. Kirk Taylor on January 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The Bill, as it stands, and I understand it, could rightly be called The Private Health Insurance Profit Protection and Enhancement Act of 2010.

    This is not just patently unfair to Americans, but will further the cause of Corporate Control of America, in other words, fascism.

    The almost defunct middle class cannot afford this any more than those who will be forced into a “Debtors prison” type of system as they are required to pay the fascists a percentage of their income for a human right called health care.

    You guys all deserve to have election reform forced down your throats… after you are put on standard health care.



  4. CLEE PAUL on January 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    What am I thinkiong? Still angry at the Corporatist philosophy of our ruling elites.

    A TARP for insurance vampires ect. I fear this will pass as does everything against the greater public in this Corporatist State. Like CAFTA, NAFTA, bombing peasants in mud huts and everything else none of us aver agreed to it will be stuffed down our collective pie holes without our consent.

    So, I am suggesting a national boycott of the system once they pass it and try to enforce it. Yeah, a national “We Won’t Participate With Our Oppressors” movement. Screw them. A little people Power is needed here. Our stand in front of the tanks moment if you will.

    Any thoughts on that? Don’t enroll. Don’t pay the fines. Just send all bills to your senators and congress person with a letter that says, “You wanted this system, well you pay for it now”

    Fuck ’em.
    And not in that good Las Vegas way either.



  5. CLEE PAUL on January 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Another thing. If Obama was the person those of you who voted for him thought he was, he would have given every one arrested for asking about single payer a full and complete pardon by now. That he hasn’t nor has hinted on such a thing in the future,says a just about everything does it not.



  6. Molly Rush on January 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Pennsylvania is pressing ahead with PA Senate Bill 400/House Bill 1660 single payer legislation.

    Last month the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee held a hearing on the bill. Sen. Don White (R) chairman and committee members were very receptive. Two conservative Republicans, a businessman and former legislator and a physician from Gettysburg spoke eloquently about why they support the bill. Panel members were clearly interested and asked serious questions. The panel of lobbyists were clearly at a disadvantage.

    Go to our website, http://www.healthcare4allPA.org, for a link to Sen. White’s site, which includes copies of the testimony and a video of the hearing.

    SUPPORT THE ERISA WAIVER TO ALLOW STATES TO ADOPT THEIR OWN SINGLE PAYER PROGRAMS.

    HC4AllPA now has an office at 1101 Murray Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15217. Phone 412-421-4242



  7. Kathy on January 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    The majority of the American people want a single payor system – are you not listening?



  8. Ed Folkwein on January 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I am disgusted with the proposed legislation also. I do not appreciate the way that Sen. Baucus, Montana has bowed to the corporate interests that line his wallet. He has done a great disfavor to Montanans and people of our nation who cannot afford health care. My family has been invaded by unnecessary health tests and costs because medical personnel would not listen to our statements, “My health insurance will not cover this!”
    Let’s keep single payer before the people. Help me get activated! Ed



  9. Deborah Thompson on January 10, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for all that you are doing to fight for the human right that is health care. I wish I could donate and be involved, but due to illness and homelessness due to illness, I am unable to do much. I suffer from Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Typhus. There may be even more strains that haven’t been found, yet. Just think-preventable infectious disease from a bug bite (or so they say), and about 15 years of being told the “in your head” routine. With the horrible cough and about 30-40 other symptoms that go with this plague, I worked in the service industry (restaurant,bar,concession), serving peoples food and drink,for years, until I could no longer work. “May I take your order?”.

    During that stretch, I also gave blood. I have learned, also, that our blood supply is not screened for tick born disease.
    I was denied bloodwork for infectious disease for years, being told no because “I couldn’t afford it”, even when on Medicaid.

    Finally, in 2007, a diagnosis. (RMSF and Typhus-Lyme wasn’t found until this year{brain lesions found -MRI from an ER visit}). Now on Medically Needy Share of Cost, I am denied treatment about half of the time. Then there’s the discrimination and corruption in the St. Petersburg (FL) Social Security Administration. (We need an advocacy group to deal with them, too!) When I hear the haters against healthcare profess to be compassionate, I could throw up. God help us. My honor student and I are homeless, basically from a bug bite, and cruelty within our system. How third world is this? I cry at the thought of leaving my children and grandchildren in this kind of blatant cruelty. Oh well, like they say, “Be kind to your waitresses and bartenders”(they may have tick disease and not know it and cough in your food!)
    Watch out for those fleas and ticks!(and mosquitoes). A dog has a better chance to get diagnosed than we do. Best healthcare in the world? That’s what I hear, but I wouldn’t know.



  10. Urania Hunter on January 11, 2010 at 2:04 am

    We want Universal health Care for ALL. Nothing else will do.



  11. Jerry Halstead on January 11, 2010 at 10:10 am

    After we put so much promise in Barack Obama, worked so hard and sent so much money to get him elected we feel very let down with his leadership in the healthcare matter. This has become such a giveaway to the for profit insurance companies it makes me sick. It will be mandated for 30 plus million people to sign up with insurance Co. so the honchos can add more millions to annual pay and they’ll be able to lobby and control more in Congress with the increased revenue.
    With such high hopes it looks like a sellout ending.



  12. Basoflakes on February 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    The Baucus 8, like Howard Zinn, Desmond Tutu and many others, have great courage to stand up for the right thing to do.

    My only question to myself – why not me too?

    I’m old and don’t know if I can stand the rigors of incarceration, but there are grandmothers on the Baucus 8.

    I have no excuses – civil disobeidience is the right thing to do.



  13. amyamylsone on November 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    ******