Baucus Arrests Five More Doctors, Nurses, Activists

By David Swanson

Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs were signs reading: “Nurses Say: Patients First,” “Stop AHIP,” (referring to health insurance lobbyists), “Pass Single Payer.”

This was the second hearing at which, despite majority support for single-payer in polls, not a single advocate for single-payer was permitted to participate. The nurses were asked to leave and did so. But five people spoke up for single-payer and were arrested: Dr. Judy Desovich; DeAnn McEwen, a nurse from Longbeach Memorial Medical Center ICU; Sue Cannon, a nurse from UC-Irvine; Dr. Steven Fenichel from New York; and Jerry Call from Maine.

Flowers phoned me from the sidewalk at Constitution Avenue and First Street at 10:30 a.m. as the arrestees were being brought outside one by one and a crowd was cheering and chanting. About 10 nurses staged a brief sit-in on the sidewalk while we were on the phone. Numerous TV cameras and boom mics were present from Bill Moyer’s Journal, CBS, and other networks.

Groups involved included CNA, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, Gray Panthers, Public Citizen, and Code Pink. Seven of the “Baucus Eight” arrestees from the last hearing were present for this one.

I heard chants of “Lock Up Baucus!” and “Baucus Baucus You Can’t Hide – We Can See Your Greedy Side!”

People were holding up posters and banners including a large one showing a healthcare provider with tape over their mouth and the words “Most Physicians Want a Single Payer National Health System.”

Video and photos will be posted soon at http://afterdowningstreet.org/baucus

Dare we hope for media reports as good as was Ed Schultz’s last time?

On Wednesday, May 13, Flowers and other leaders of the campaign for single-payer will be speaking at a rally at Upper Senate Park from noon to 2 p.m. (You can also catch a hearing on torture at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 226.) Then at 3 p.m. actor Mike Farrell will join Congressman Dennis Kucinich for a press conference on single-payer at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2203. Find more about the week’s events at http://pdamerica.org

I’ll be there. Will you?