Sit-in today at Aetna office in New York to demand an end to insurance company abuse

17 citizens and health care providers arrested, launching national mobilization for health care for all

New York, NY – Citizens and health care providers today staged a sit-in at the offices of Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, in New York City (99 Park Ave @ 40th). The action is part of a national mobilization to end health insurance abuses such as the denial of coverage for lifesaving treatments, and win support for the only real public option – Medicare for all, a single payer plan. The action was part of a Mobilization for Health Care for All campaign that includes actions in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities across the country.

Single-Payer Arrests

The 17 participants, 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.

“Insurance companies are denying care to people who need it right and left, but that’s not how it should work. Health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Constancia ‘Dinky’ Romily, 68, just before getting arrested. Romily is a retired nurse and a resident of East Village, New York. “I’m putting myself on the line and getting arrested to end insurance abuse and win health care for all,” she says.

The sit-in is part of the Patients Not Profit campaign of the Mobilization for Health Care for All. The mobilization was launched by the organizations Prosperity Agenda, Health Care NOW!, and the Center for the Working Poor. Today’s action has been organized by the Private Health Insurance Must Go coalition, a local New York organization.

“People are dying because these corporations put profits before patients, and the health care bill currently on the floor of Congress fails to address the real cause of the health care crisis – the insurance companies.” says Katie Robbins, an organizer with Healthcare-Now! “The only solution to our health care crisis is the real public option, Medicare for All, a single payer plan.”

Laurie Wen, 38, a Manhattan resident, is one of the everyday Americans who are fed up with the state of health care in our country, and was arrested today to stand up for the hundreds of Americans who are denied lifesaving care every day, and to call for the only solution for health care for all, Medicare for all. A friend of hers, she says, was recently denied by Aetna for coverage for a bone marrow transfusion to treat cancer for three months, setting his care back for three months.

“We will continue to stage these sit-ins as Congress debates legislation that expands the insurance company stranglehold over our health, our lives, and our government,” says Wen. “We need a better system to end insurance abuse and win health care for all.”

For more information:
Mobilization for Health Care
Photos from today


  1. Frank Valdez on September 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    This was a very brave thing to do. Unfortunatley it seems a little late given the fact that Medicare For All was never given a chance to be discussed.

    Massive civil disobedience in Washington, D.C. is in order especially at or in the Capitol Building!

    • Cathy on October 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

      It’s never too late. Nothing is written in stone. And as these sit-ins and rallies go on the polls keep showing that at the very least 65% or more Americans want a robust public option, and the one they want is not the watered-down “sliver” that Obama favors, but expanded Medicare that anyone can join. And from the comments I’m reading on boards I see more and more new posters who say “Why can’t we just expand Medicare for all?” And then I refer them to H.R. 676. I don’t believe Medicare for All will be dead if Baucus/Obamacare, by some sad turn of events, passed. I think that would be the beginning for an even bigger revolt. People know this bill stinks.

  2. Marlene on October 2, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I just watched those brave people, 17 strong, sit in for what is a fundamental right for all people and what is morally correct. My heart swelled with pride for their courage of conviction. Bravo!! I trust these events will swell across the USA and that the majority who believe in this right will get out and change the business as usual. Government for the people by the people. To you brave 17: WELL DONE!!

  3. Tom Moreno on October 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Hell Care

    If U.S. Federal Employees were allowed to speak their mind about the Hell Care received from Private Health Insurer, you will not publish it.

    To have Private Insurance Companies run a system of Health Care in the U.S. is terrorism. The U.S. citizens do not have Health Care they have Private Health Insurance whose motivation is to show a financial profit by denying health coverage and canceling health insurance coverage of ill customers.

    Historically U.S. Citizen receives Hell Care from Private Insurance Companies. Instead of the U.S. Government collaborating with Private Insurance Companies, the U.S. Government should hunt down the captains of the Private Health Care Industry akin to the scenes in Mary W. Shelley’s Frankenstein where the enraged villagers carried pitchforks, torches and dogs after cornering Frank in an old abandon shed at the edge of town. If you can’t find those enraged villagers, at least, charge them with Conspiracy for Fraudulently Misrepresentation, Theft of Services, Bribing U.S. Congressmen, Conspiracy to Fraudulently Deprive the U.S. Public of Health Care and Murder by Private Health Insurance Claim Denial.

    The Private Health Insurance CEOs and lackeys administered their brand of Hell Care by instituting high premium rates and co-payments, denying health coverage, costly non-covered hospitalization and prescription drug programs, profiteering, scaring patients out of taking treatments and a general disregard for human life.

    If the votes are not in to support a single payer Health Care for all U.S. citizens, then the vote should not be in for those like Max Baucus and Charles Grassley of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance who subvert the peoples’ interest. A few “accompisments” of old Max was to encourage privatization of Social Security so Wall Street can steal Social Security retirement money, backed-up the Clear Skies Initiative that increased global warming and rewarded polluters with their God given right to pollute and put U.S. Citizens health at peril under former “Vice President” george bush, voted in favor of the anti-consumer bankruptcy bill written by those thieving credit card companies and pushed on the U.S. Citizen the anti-fair-wage CAFTA. Now he is standing between you and your health. Who needs this “democrap”?

    To those who are enraged about the alleged stolen 2009 Iranian election who want to redeem themselves for cowardly not protesting the stolen election in the U.S., this is the opportunity to make-up for your gutless act unlike those Iranian heroes defending their rights we have lost under Private Health Care Insurance.

  4. Melanie on October 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

    On November 7th, 2009, we will march upon Washington to DEMAND healthcare reform. We want real reform, not just a band-aid.
    We need change, and we need it now!
    We want a million people to descend upon Washington D.C. to show that they are tired of the old order, and we want change for us, our children, our grandchildren, and the future citizens of this great nation. Let’s get a million, that should be enough to give Ol’ Glenn “Il Duce” Beck a massive heart attack.
    Join us on facebook –

    • Ryan Tedrow on May 17, 2010 at 10:17 am

      Agreed, I’m 15 years old and if my parents got fired from there jobs like they might have a couple years ago, I could not get the 5 surgerys I needed to make my bladder healthy and to live proper. I’m glad people like this are making an effort to stop Profit before Patients. Good work, guys.

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  6. Dee on June 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

    First of all I would like to thank those that protested and stood up to speak for MILLIONS of Americans living this healthcare nightmare! Americans are going to realize real soon that health insurance will not protect you! 2 million are expected to file bankruptcy this year that had health insurance! Obama care will give us nothing more than underinsurance folks!!!! Leaving Americans swimming in medical bills the insurance didn’t pay. American’s must use their voices and speak up like these 17 did, to fight for those suffering without healthcare! We must care about our neighbor, brother, sister, mother, father, because it could be your family…. We must speak out for human decency…..

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