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Betsy Combier

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The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Joan Klingsberg
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Jim Calantjis
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
"Single Payer" Insurance Activists are Arrested at Senate Rondtable on Health Care
Single payer is successfully implemented in the United States’ own Medicare system providing comprehensive care to the elderly, as well as in many of the best health care systems in the world. A single-payer system, as embodied in legislation H.R. 676 and S. 703, would provide guaranteed, quality care to all Americans with no increase in U.S. health spending.
May 7, 2009
Interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, Arrested Tuesday at Senate Roundtable on Health Care
By Joan Brunwasser, OpEdNews

I have with me Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-chair of the Maryland branch of the 16,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program . She is a pediatrician, and mother of three teenagers, who left the practice of medicine about two years ago to work on health care reform full time. She spends a lot of time speaking to legislators, both local and congressional, and to the public about health care reform. Dr. Flowers explains, “I got involved because I saw how private insurers were making medical decisions that were inappropriate and because I felt like I (and others) couldn't practice quality medicine because of the tricks that insurers use to avoid paying for health care. It is wrong and people are suffering and dying because of it.”

Welcome, Dr. Flowers. You must be exhausted after your ‘adventures’ on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Tell us how you and your colleagues came to be rounded up by the police.

It started last week. We, meaning some of the people who advocate for a national health system based on single payer financing, learned who the Senate Finance Committee had invited to the Roundtable on the Expansion of Health Insurance Coverage and it wasn't very reassuring. Those invited represented either a conservative viewpoint or the interests of the private insurance industry and big business. None of them represented single payer – the most efficient way to expand coverage by expanding Medicare to everyone.

Several of the national groups organized call-ins to members of the committee by constituents in their states. Other groups organized having faxes sent. Despite thousands of phone calls and faxes, we learned on Monday that Sen. Baucus's office had said that there would be no more invitations to speakers for the event.

The Roundtable was planned as a public event, but the public was not allowed to speak or to ask questions. In addition, it was the type of event that you must get to early and stand in line for hours just to get in. It sounded like it was going to be one more in the series of very scripted and controlled events that has characterized this "health care debate."

We decided that we would try to attend and request that one of us, all knowledgeable about single payer, be allowed to have a seat at the table. We arrived around 7 am and waited in line. We were allowed into the Committee Room at around 9:45. We took seats in the audience.

As I sat there looking around the room, what I saw saddened me. We had decided to wear black to symbolize the death and suffering of thousands of Americans every year who can't get needed health care. As I looked around and saw the Senators and staffers and guests of the Roundtable, I saw people who were well-off and who were smiling and laughing. Their demeanor did not match what I felt was supposed to be a serious discussion of our nation's health crisis and how to address it.

Shortly before the meeting started, one of the people in our group, Russell Mokhiber, stood up and said something to the effect that there were no people representing single payer at the table and that there were doctors in the room who were willing to take a seat. He was arrested.

Following that, we rose, one by one, and spoke out for single payer. Each of the eight of us were arrested. We were handcuffed and held for around seven hours. We were charged with Unlawful Conduct and Disruption of Congress.

What did you all hope to accomplish by being arrested?

Our first goal was to have a seat at the table. That has been a request to Congress throughout this year, really since the presidential election. All we've asked is that when the government looks at options for health care reform that single payer is given equal attention. We would like the Congressional Budget Office to review the cost of improving and expanding Medicare to everyone. We know that this is an affordable way to provide health care to everyone.

If we couldn't get a seat, at least we could expose the insincerity of the current attempt at health care reform and show that single payer was actively being excluded.

I risked arrest because I hear what my colleagues are going through. I hear their frustration at trying to deliver high quality health care but running into obstacles placed by the insurers. I hear frustration when the physician knows what the correct treatment is but can't get the treatment authorized because an insurance administrator who has no medical background is telling the doctor what he or she can and cannot do. I hear the frustration caused by the huge amount of money and time that is spent by physician practices trying to get reimbursed by health insurers for health care that has been delivered. I hear physicians saying that they wish they could spend more time with their patients, but they are squeezed because they have to see a certain number of patients in order to keep their practices going and pay their staff. I see my primary care colleagues working without pay and many of them leaving private practice. And I meet patients who can't get the health care they need, even if they are insured. I see health insurance policies that deny care that could improve the quality of life of a patient with chronic illness and actually save money in the long run by keeping them healthier or allowing them to return to work.

And I know that we could solve these problems by creating a national health system that is based on health care as a human right. The public wants a national health system and providers want a national health system, but the Senate won't listen and actively excludes our voices.

Stay tuned for part two of our interview, in which Dr. Flowers spells out what is necessary to get our government to consider single payer as an option for national health care.

Check out,, and

Listen to Rob Kall’s May 6th radio interview with Dr. Flowers .

Read Ralph Nader: Disruption of Congress?

Author's Bio: Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which exists for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. We aim to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Electronic (computerized) voting systems are simply antithetical to democratic principles.

CER set up a lending library to achieve the widespread distribution of the DVD Invisible Ballots: A temptation for electronic vote fraud. Within eighteen months, the project had distributed over 3200 copies across the country and beyond. CER now concentrates on group showings, OpEd pieces, articles, reviews, interviews, discussion sessions, networking, conferences, anything that promotes awareness of this critical problem. Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005.

Dr. Margaret Flowers Arrested Advocating for a Single Payer Health Car (oregon)
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-05-06, 12:37PM PDT

On May 5, 2009, Dr. Margaret Flowers, and seven other activists, were arrested at a health care hearing on Capitol Hill. Dr. Flowers advocates for a “single payer” system and the Senate Finance Committee had barred any testimony from her group. Dr. Flowers insisted on speaking out about the issue.

Most other industrialized nations have already moved to single-payer systems and in the process lowered costs to the patients, reduced unnecessary treatments and tests used to run up bills in the US for-profit system, reduced overhead, and generally made the service providers more accountable for their actions by preventing the spreading of responsibility among a network of overlapping organizations.

single-payer is opposed by those insurance companies who have grown rich off of the current for-profit medical industry in the United States, and lawyers who grow fat off of malpractice lawsuits that have to be endlessly litigated to determine fault among the over-networked participants in care.

That the Finance Committee is refusing to even listen to proposals for single-payer system sends a chilling message that Congress is deep in the pockets of the medical profiteers.

* MAY 5, 2009, 10:38 A.M. ET

Single-Payer Health-Care Advocates Disrupt Senate Hearing
Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US. Medical bankruptcies are almost unknown in nations with single-payer systems.

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Eight advocates of government-run health care disrupted a Senate hearing Tuesday on health-care coverage, complaining that their viewpoint was shut out of Senate debate on the issue.

One-by-one, the eight people stood up just before a Senate Finance Committee hearing and spoke in favor of so-called "single-payer" health care - a system by which the government would provide health insurance for everyone and essentially supplant the private insurance market. The Finance hearing is a "roundtable" in which 15 witnesses are set to testify on health care coverage.

"You have 15 seats at the table and not one for single-payer," said one man, before being escorted from the committee by U.S. Capitol Police.

The single-payer supporters, dressed in business attire, were able to interrupt the hearing by spreading throughout the hearing room and staggering their protest speeches. Just as one protestor was taken out of the room by police, another would stand up and start talking.

Single-payer health care proposals have seen little-to-no footing in congressional debates on overhauling the U.S. health-care system, though many Democrats favor the creation of a public insurance plan to compete alongside private insurers.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the committee, sought to calm the protesters.

"That is a view which many have and which I respect," Baucus said of single-payer health care. "The point of this and other hearings is to determine the best option."

-By Patrick Yoest, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-3554;

Single-Payer Advocates Have to Get Arrested to Get Heard
By tiffany

Eight doctors and other advocates of a national single-payer health care system were arrested yesterday when they disrupted a Senate committee meeting, demanding to know why experts representing their position were being excluded. . . .

Eight doctors and other advocates of a national single-payer health care system–which would improve and expand Medicare to everyone–were arrested yesterday when they disrupted a Senate committee meeting on health care reform.

The single-payer advocates wanted to know why experts representing their position were being excluded from the roundtable of 15 witnesses speaking before the Senate Finance Committee's roundtable on health reform.

Donna Smith, a community organizer for the California Nurses Association, explained to Labor Notes why single-payer advocates had to get arrested to get heard in Washington.

Labor Notes: Why are Congress and the administration shutting single-payer experts out of the policymaking process?

Donna Smith: Our feeling is that it’s purposeful to shut out the single-payer position.

National health insurance is the position advocated by about 60 percent of the public in independent polls, and almost 60 percent of physicians. There are millions of people who support single payer but it’s the one position that doesn’t bode well for the private insurance industry.

And the private insurance industry contributes mightily to campaigns throughout the nation. They spend a lot of money ensuring their position in the system.

LN: What were you calling for?

DS: These people [who were arrested yesterday] weren’t saying, ‘give us single payer.’ They were saying, ‘give us a witness!’

Give us a voice in this testimony being taken for this nation. We’ve never been afraid of that before. If these elected leaders aren’t hearing from all positions, how can they make the best decision?

LN: Do the arrests yesterday indicate that single-payer advocates’ strategy is changing?

DS: We don’t know yet. In the single-payer movement, there’s been growing unrest among lots of people that they are not being heard. Members of Congress and to a certain extent the new administration are just not open—we hear their words about transparency in government and being a part of the process, but what’s happening in policy is not being shared with the people.

In this economy, 14,000 people a day are losing their employer-based health care benefits. If we implement any kind of system that requires subsidizing people who can’t afford to pay for health insurance, how in the world do we base a system on requiring employer-based health insurance?

LN: Considering how marginalized the single-payer voice has been in shaping the debate over health care reform, is creating a “public option” in the sea of private insurers a fallback position?

DS: Some people would like that to be the game plan. Those of us who believe that single payer is the right way for this nation don’t think we’re advocating a fallback position.

People have suggested to us that we’re providing balance to the argument right now by standing firm on single payer. That’s not what the nurses, doctors, the folks arrested yesterday are feeling. They’re saying single payer is the right way to go. They’re not providing political balance—we’re trying to ensure there aren’t injustices in health care delivery anymore.

If health care is a human right—and our president said it, as he campaigned—how can we set in place any system that makes your human right bronze level, mine silver, and my neighbor’s gold?

May 5, 2009
4:14 PM

CONTACT: Single Payer Advocates
Russell Mokhiber, Single Payer Action, (202) 468-8868,
Katie Robbins, Healthcare-NOW! (330) 618-6379,
Margaret Flowers, M.D., Physicians for a National Health Program – Maryland chapter, (410) 591-0892,
Kevin Zeese,, (301) 996-6582,
Doctors Protest Exclusion of Single-Payer at Senate Finance Committee

WASHINGTON - May 5 - Doctors and other advocates of a national single-payer health system – also known as an improved Medicare for All – directly confronted senators at a Senate Finance Committee “roundtable” on health reform today.

One-by-one, eight single-payer advocates in the audience stood up during the opening comments of the hearing and asked why single-payer experts were being excluded from the proceedings. They each spoke out in turn until they were removed from the committee hearing room, one-by-one, by U.S. Capitol police.

The doctors and others said that a publicly funded, privately delivered single-payer system is the only solution to the crisis plaguing our nation’s non-system of health care, noting that single-payer national health insurance would guarantee coverage for everyone and contains costs.

Despite polling that shows a clear majority of public and physician support for a single-payer system, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has stated on multiple occasions that single payer is “off the table” of health reform.

Today’s round table, the second of three, consisted of 15 witnesses with no single-payer advocates among them. By contrast, several witnesses have direct ties to the for-profit, private health insurance industry.

The doctors and activists were dressed in black, which they said was in memory of the 22,000 people who die every year due to lack of health insurance. They represented a coalition of single-payer advocacy organizations including Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Healthcare-NOW, Single Payer Action, Private Health Insurance Must Go, the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, Prosperity Agenda, and Health Care for the Homeless.

“Health insurance administrators are practicing medicine without a medical license,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-chair of Maryland chapter of PNHP. “The result is the suffering and death of thousands of patients for the sake of private profit. The private health insurance industry has a solid grip on patients, providers and legislators. It is time to stand up and declare that health care is a human right.”

Much to the frustration of Baucus, the multiple disruptions demanding single-payer be on the table set the tone for the second of three roundtables on Health Reform by the Senate Finance Committee.

Katie Robbins, assistant national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW, said: “The current discussion on health reform is political theater at its best. Our elected officials are hosting these events to go through the motions of what developing effective national health policy should look like. There is a big difference between getting health policy experts in the room and the witnesses here today who would profit the most from reform. That difference means our hard-earned dollars will go to further insurance industry profits, not to guarantee health care to the American people.”

“It’s a pretty spectacular display of raw political power,” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “The health insurance industry demands that not one of the 15 people who testified today shall be a single-payer advocate. And the industry gets what it wants. It’s time for the American people to storm the gates and demand – put single payer on the table.”

Single payer is successfully implemented in the United States’ own Medicare system providing comprehensive care to the elderly, as well as in many of the best health care systems in the world. A single-payer system, as embodied in legislation H.R. 676 and S. 703, would provide guaranteed, quality care to all Americans with no increase in U.S. health spending.

The single-payer advocates said they will continue to use direct actions and nonviolent civil disobedience to urge the inclusion of a publicly funded, privately delivered system.

Other methods of communication with elected officials have failed in delivering the demand for single-payer national health care as evidenced by the exclusion of single-payer advocates from official hearings on health reform.


Healthcare-NOW! is a national grassroots advocacy organization in support of single-payer national health care with a network of activists in 42 states. More information can be found at

Single Payer Action is a nonprofit activist fueled organization. Find out more at

Maryland Chapter Physicians for a National Health Program is a chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and education organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance. More information can be found at

Prosperity Agenda includes single payer national health care as one of the policy changes needed to create an economy that benefits all Americans, not just the wealthiest. Prosperity Agenda is an economic justice project associated with The Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics (

Russell Mokhiber,

Margaret Flowers, MD & Katie Robbins

Carol Paris, MD

Mark Dudzic

Adam S

Pat Salomon, MD & Kevin Zeese

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation