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Dr. Laura Boylan, demanding Medicare for All, arrested at Schumer protest

[The following statement was released by neurologist Dr. Laura Boylan after her arrest on Thursday morning in midtown Manhattan for sitting down with others in front of the building housing the offices of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and refusing to move. She was charged with disorderly conduct and released shortly afterward.]

I was arrested this morning in an act of peaceful civil disobedience along with a diverse group of seven others, including a medical student and a nurse, similarly passionate about Medicare for All. Ours was one of 17 actions organized by Mobilization for Health Care for All across the country to honor International Human Rights Day. We blocked the doors to Sen. Charles Schumer’s office building.

Sen. Schumer is a powerful player in health reform. This week some senators have proposed expanding Medicare to cover those 55 and over. No details of the plan have been released, but the idea has been floated.

I’m a physician with the American majority who’d really like in on Medicare. I support Medicare for All, single-payer health care for all. Medicare’s not perfect, but we can make Medicare 2.0. It’s the only way to get quality, universal access and affordability. Its principal weakness is the threat it poses to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Many congressmen and senators, including Sen. Schumer, say they support Medicare for All or acknowledge its superiority. They insist, however, that it is “politically unfeasible.” This is not because Americans are anti-Medicare – far from it. Medicare is one of American’s most beloved public programs.

As the coins hit the fan, the time will come when it will be politically unfeasible to continue to bailout our for-profit insurance industry with taxpayer subsidies. Medicare provides much higher value for our health care dollar with no money siphoned off in administrative multi-payer waste and stockholder profits.

Meanwhile people are dying. I am not speaking metaphorically; I have seen people dying from lack of access to care. Most recently last month it was a 42-year-old mother of two with a big bleed in her brain from uncontrolled blood pressure. She’d been cutting back on the pills she couldn’t afford.

Fear is being promoted in the land, the idea that we are not all in this together. That if you want yours, someone else must go with less or without. It’s the “illegals,” the “fatties,” the smokers, the oldies, the “Medicaid cheats” and so on. This is a big lie. We can all do better with single-payer Medicare for All.

Only by having “everybody in, nobody out” can Americans get real choice, real freedom and real security. How often does the universe breathe an opening where quality and low cost are bedfellows, where justice and mercy meet and shake hands, where the pragmatic is both just and beautiful?

One life sacrificed to health insurance profits is too much. Right now 45,000 people a year die from lack of insurance. The congressional plan that covers the most people will leave at least 18 million uncovered.

There can be no freedom of opportunity where there is no guaranteed health care. On this day of human rights, we put our bodies on the line to affirm that health care is a human right. We, his constituents, insist to Sen. Schumer: Medicare enrollment should start at birth.