Occupy welcomes physician sharing vision for single-payer health system

By Zack Rubin
The Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Dec. 5, 2011

Dr. Steve Auerbach has shared his vision for a single-payer health system with Occupy movements nationwide, and on Friday he brought it to Chapel Hill.

Auerbach, a pediatrician and a leader of the advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program, pointed at a handwritten sign reading “Corporate greed makes us sick” while speaking to a crowd in Alumni Hall.

“It’s not a moral statement, it’s a matter of fact,” he said.

After his speech at the University, Auerbach and a crowd moved on to Peace and Justice Plaza outside the town’s courthouse to continue the discussion.

Auerbach’s speeches were part of a series of “teach-ins” being held across the country by “Health care for the 99 percent,” a branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He also spoke Saturday in Durham and Greensboro.

Auerbach discussed the role of insurance companies and lobbyists in health care. He criticized the fact that insurance companies might not cover people with certain conditions.

“If you take home one message, it’s this: You can’t make money insuring sick people,” he said. “That’s insane, it makes no sense.”

He said a single-payer health care system — where medical care for the entire population is funded by one entity, such as a government-run organization — would solve the inequality.

Some veterans of the Occupy movement viewed the speech and participated in the walk to Occupy Chapel Hill, including freshman Laura Carroll.

“I had been to some of the Occupy events before the raids happened, and I wanted to see how the movement shifted,” she said.

Other attendees said they were simply curious.

“I’ve sort of been watching from afar,” said freshman Mariah Earle. “My family always ridiculed the single–payer system, so I learned some actual factual things.”

Junior Addison Evans said speakers like Auerbach can spark conversation on campus.

“It is important to have informed debate,” said Evans, who received extra credit from her professor for attending.

Auerbach said he was glad to be part of the tradition of doctors advocating in civil rights movements.

“I consider myself extremely patriotic,” he said. “Despite 30 years of propaganda, the American people get it.”