UPDATE: Groundswell of sit-ins and civil disobedience at insurance company offices to demand real health care reform

From Mobilization for Health Care for All

* Supporters of health care for all have been occupying the lobby of a Louisville, Kentucky Humana insurance for over 24 hours (rally today at 11:30 AM outside the building)

* 119 arrests have occurred at actions in 19 cities at insurance company offices in the past month

* Rhode Island cancer patient who risked arrest Wednesday at UnitedHealth awaits answer about denial of claim for lifesaving bone marrow transplant

* Sit-in at 12 noon today in Philadelphia with 17 people risking arrest; One supporter intends to remain in police custody to inspire more civil disobedience * Three doctors arrested so far for health care for all, one in Los Angeles and two in Baltimore

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Mobilization for Health Care for All continues to see a growing number of doctors participating in these actions. Yesterday Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician who has testified before Congress on the need for meaningful health care reform, was arrested in Baltimore and joined by Dr. Eric Naumberg, also a physician. Other physicians include Matt Hendrickson, MD MPH, who was arrested Wednesday in Los Angeles, and Dr. Ken Weinberg, who was present at a sit-in at Wellpoint insurance office in New York on Wednesday and has committed to risking arrest for health care for all in the coming weeks. 60 percent of doctors support aggressive health care reform, namely a universal health care system like Medicare for All, similar to what 37 other countries already have.

Acts of civil disobedience at insurance company offices are growing as people across the nation identify insurance companies as the real cause of the health care crisis, and see insurance company lobbying dollars in the way of health care reform. So far 119 arrests have occurred at actions in 19 cities at insurance company offices in the past month. In sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience, people are demanding that insurance companies re-direct their lobbying funds to pay for doctor-requested treatments for people with life-threatening conditions. In some states, one in five of these requests is denied by insurance company bureaucrats.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY -- A group of seven health care for all supporters, including nurse Kay Tillow, have been occupying the lobby of Humana health insurance since 10 AM on Thursday, vowing to stay there to support a health care system that treats health care like a human right, and calling on insurance companies to step out of the way to make space for real health care reform. The “Louisville Seven” were joined by about 100 other supporters at a rally yesterday morning as they entered the building. They're now entrenched in the building and will not leave the marble floor of Humana health insurance until their demands are met. The Louisville Seven will hold a demonstration with their supporters outside the building at 11:30 AM today outside the building.

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Cancer patient Robert Darling, 59, resident of Warwick, Rhode Island, is awaiting a response from UnitedHealth about coverage of his lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Several years ago, Darling was denied the transplant by UnitedHealth even though his doctors stated that it was the only way to save his life. Darling called for months, eventually going to a hospital that would allow the transplant due to a federal government reimbursement plan. On Wednesday Debora Spana, a communications representative with UnitedHealth, said that she would find Darling's file and get back to him, scheduling a meeting next week. The group also asked to meet with UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley. Research shows that Hemsley earns in income one out of every 700 dollars spent on health care in the US. Darling risked arrest yesterday when he entered the Warwick, Rhode Island, offices of UnitedHealth insurance company with other health care reform supporters and asked for answers regarding his denial of a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. The supporters occupied the lobby of UnitedHealth for over an hour, but Darling was willing to wait longer. He's been waiting for five years for an answer from UnitedHealth.

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- At least 17 people, mostly undergraduate students at Swarthmore College, will risk arrest at the Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield at 12 noon today at 1901 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. Participants in the sit-in will demand that Blue Cross Blue Shield immediately approve all doctor-prescribed lifesaving care for their members and discontinue all campaign contributions and funding of anti-health reform lobby campaigns aimed at preserving the failed employment-based health care system. They will bring with them a letter for Blue Cross's CEO, Joseph Frick, which he must sign immediately to promise that the company will meet these demands and he must promise to hold a press conference within a week to announce Blue Cross's plans. The group will not leave until their demands are met or they are removed by police.

Judy Esber will be risking arrest with the rest of the group in Philadelphia. She will not give information to the police that would lead to her arrest until 100 more supporters of meaningful health care reform sign up to commit an act of civil disobedience. She hopes that her time spent in jail will inspire others to take action for a system that treats health care like a human right!

# # # More info: Mobilization for Health Care for All