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‘Medicare for All’ supporters to protest outside health insurers’ convention Thursday

Health advocates to protest insurance companies’ high premiums, denial of care, and meddling in doctor-patient relationship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2011

Contact:
Bill Skeen, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, Physicians for a National Health Program – California, (510) 665-8523, bill@pnhpcalifornia.org

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hundreds of activists are expected to rally outside the Moscone Convention Center West complex on June 16 to protest what they call the outmoded and harmful role of private insurance companies in U.S. health care and to offer an alternative solution: a publicly financed single-payer system, otherwise known as “an improved Medicare for all.”

The occasion is the annual meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans, AHIP, the trade association of the nation’s health insurance companies. The rally is set for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. this Thursday at Howard and 4th streets in downtown San Francisco.

“Health care decisions should be made by patients and doctors, not private corporations,” said Dr. Henry Abrons, president of the California chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. “Commercial health insurers – with all their co-pays, deductibles, co-insurances, claim denials, excessive paperwork, wasteful marketing costs, outrageous CEO salaries and direct interference in the doctor-patient relationship – stand in the way of patients getting necessary care.”

“At one time private health insurers may have made sense, but no longer,” Abrons said. “Now they’re an obstacle to good, quality care. Even as 51 million Americans remain uninsured and millions more are saddled with inadequate insurance, the five largest for-profit insurers -- Aetna, CIGNA, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint -- had combined profits of $11.7 billion last year. That’s outrageous.”

Abrons said the coalition protesting at the AHIP meeting on June 16 will be calling for “a proven, cost-efficient alternative: an improved Medicare for all, otherwise known as a single-payer system.”

“Improving Medicare and providing it to everyone is the only socially responsible way to protect our precious human and economic resources,” he said.

Dr. Joel Weddington, also a PNHP member, said, “We support a healthier America because we have the same values that everybody has – we value our families, we value our friends and neighbors, and we value this country. But as doctors, most of all we value health.”

“Health care for all will only be a reality when we remove the wasteful health insurance industry and have one public insurer for all Californians, through an Improved Medicare-for-All system,” he said. “California has legislation that can make this change: Senate Bill 810 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-3). There is national legislation that would do this too. California can pass this legislation, but only if the people demand it. Stand up for keeping your loved ones healthy. Stand up for health care as a human right.”

Co-sponsors of the June 16 rally include California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Nurses Association, Gray Panthers, Healthcare for All, Physicians for a National Health Program, Wellstone Democratic Club, and Single Payer Now.

Physicians for a National Health Program - California     www.pnhpcalifornia.org
2344 Sixth Street
Berkeley CA 94710-2412
T 510.665.8523