Margaret Flowers and Carol Paris
In spite of the fact that there is much evidence to suggest that it is favored by a majority of Americans, enhanced Medicare for All, Single Payer has been shut out of the mainstream legislative process by Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Max Baucus, Congressional Leaders and a coalition of “Liberal”/”Progressive” organizations and media who either joined in, or acceded to the view of the politicians, that passing single-payer was not politically feasible, and that it was much preferable to advocate for a health care reform that would focus on health insurance and feature a nebulous and ever-changing concept called the Public Option. These leaders and organizations proceeded to take single-payer “off the table,” and to exclude its advocates from Congressional hearings, from substantial media coverage, from many blogopsphere discussions, and, in general from serious consideration as a reform alternative.
Some Medicare for All supporters, in an effort to ignite a mass movement for what they think is the best solution to health care reform, responded to this treatment using a traditionally American tactic called Civil Disobedience. They’ve appeared at Congressional hearings asking to be heard, gone to the front doors of insurance companies to exercise their rights of free speech, and attempted to deliver messages to the President of the United States. When asked to move along by authorities, or to ‘come to order” in committee rooms, or to go across the street to exercise their free speech by managers of the venues of events, they’ve refused and have been promptly arrested and, briefly, gone to jail for their actions.
Two of the leading figures in this attempt to ignite a movement for Medicare for All are “Mad As Hell Doctors” Margaret Flowers and Carol Paris. Both of these women were members of the “Baucus 8,” previously arrested and convicted for trying to advocate for Medicare for All at the Senate Finance Committee hearings on health care reform, after Medicare for All advocates weren’t given an invitation to testify before the committee. Most recently Drs. Flowers and Paris, tried to respond to the President’s recent request, delivered during his State of the Union address, for better ideas on health care reform. In order to offer their better idea to the President, Flowers and Baucus went to the Harbor Hotel in Baltimore just before the President was due to arrive there for his appearance before the Republican House Members retreat. As Carol Paris expresses it:
We stood in front of the Harbor Hotel in Baltimore clutching a banner that read “Letting you know. Medicare for all” and Margaret’s letter for the President written in response to his appeal for solutions to health reform. The hotel manager, police and secret service surrounded us and asked us to move.
If you watch the video, you’ll see that there was a point, a moment, which felt suspended in time, when Margaret looked at me and I looked at her and we both knew “we ain’t goin’ across the street.”
And so, they were arrested once again, and spent a bit of time in a cold jail for their convictions. Since the arrest, the youtube video linked to above has been circulated. Carol has written the article quoted from above. Margaret, who is also co-chair for Physicians for a National Health Program, and a member of Healthcare-Now of Maryland, has appeared on Bill Moyers’ at PBS giving a magnificent interview in which her quiet and compelling directness, resolve, and charisma shine through like the beacon for social justice that they are. And in a few hours at 1 PM Eastern Time, Sunday, Margaret will be live blogging at Correntewire to discuss her experiences and also the latest in single payer advocacy, civil disobedience in the service of Medicare for All, and single-payer efforts in the States. To learn more about her efforts and the enhanced Medicare for All/single-payer movement you may want to join the session.
Much of the material in this blog was provided by hipparchia in her very recent blog at Corrente. I’ve added some thoughts and a few links to what she said.