Doctors Protest Exclusion of Single-Payer at Senate Finance Committee

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Single-payer advocates protest Senate hearing

Chair of Finance Committee takes single-payer plan off the table and calls for “more police”

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. The protest was staged because despite repeated attempts to be included in the discussions chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, they had been denied a place at the table.

EDITORS’ NOTE: The corruption of “capitalist democracy” with its pronounced biases in favor of the corporate class is seen everywhere in the shameless behavior of the entire American political class, long insulated from retribution by the powerful walls of disinformation (and blockage of truth) erected by the corporate media. Washington, and its  legion of “Beltway insiders”, is of course the epicenter of this rot, but the mentality exists everywhere the capitalist way of looking at things holds sway, and the disease is so prevalent and unquestioned in the United States that it has long been euphemized as “the American Way of Life”. As might be expected, few places are more subservient to this ideology than the US Congress itself, an assembly comprised, for the most part, of individuals elected with the overt backing of the corporate plutocracy. In this context, it’s hardly surprising that Obama remains coyly reluctant to offer the American public the most logical and efficient option to fix the scandalously broken health care system, and that powerful congressional prostitutes like Max Baucus, senator from the benighted and rancher-dominated state of Montana, have the audacity to simply exclude the representatives of the single-payer option from any discussions of the reform plans. If nothing else, Baucus’ actions remind us how false is the notion of a people’s democracy in the United States, and how urgent it is to mobilize the public and destroy the power of corporate media as a preamble to true social change and authentic democracy.—P. Greanville


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. 


Max Baucus (center) with fellow mafioso Charles Grassley (left)


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

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





5 comments on “Doctors Protest Exclusion of Single-Payer at Senate Finance Committee
  1. Canamjay 2009-05-08

    what a classic indication of why this and many other problems facing America today will never be solved by the current system of government; to hell with the ‘people’ and what they think/want.. its the stakeholders with the big money who get the attention.. there is no one man one vote democracy in most developed countries today.. and they are all doomed to fail.. the force of abject failure and the dust and rubble it creates is the only future we deserve.. more police indeed… and many there considered this humorous.. I am ashamed of my generation and what we have come to…

    Dodo Bird 2009-05-08

    Even Kerry was shooting down those speaking? Wow, what Presidential fiber. How do Americans parade the notion that they are democratic when the terms of debate are not open but controlled?

    AnHonestActivist 2009-05-08

    I think this is a perfect example of the type of policy-making that goes on in our govt. today – at both the state AND federal levels. Regardless of what they would like you to believe, the U.S. political system IS NOT a democratic system. They masquerade as if it were one, but the truth of the matter is, our choices of candidates and the direction in which we are led, are, for the most part, determined by wealthy lobbyists – pure and simple. I wonder how long it will be before the vast majority of Americans begin to admit this to themselves.

    sshenfield 2009-05-08

    I’ve encountered two attempts to generate fraudulent public opinion data on health care reform. Rep. Kennedy of RI sent out an e-mail survey to his constituents asking us whether we favor a scheme that would compete with private health insurance companies, providing no option to say these companies should be abolished. I also had a call from a polling outfit, ostensibly to ask people’s opinion about health insurance companies but again providing no option for opposing their existence. When I objected the options offered the conversation was ended, and I very much doubt any record was made of the views I expressed.

    agstreet 2009-05-07

    The Senator’s comment at the end was outrageous. “We need more police” he said. Is that how he wants to handle Americans that want a voice?

    markmason 2009-05-07

    Thank you, TRNN for running this piece and thank you to the brave men and women who spoke out during the meeting proceedings. “YES WE CAN” say the single-payer advocates, and “CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.” Where are you, Mr Obama, when the nation needs you to move your campaign slogans from the category of cynical opportunism to reality?

    mwdorman 2009-05-07

    More work needs to be done by single-payer advocates to put a lie to the use of the term “socialized medicine” conjuring up images of Soviet Russia. Canadian doctors are private business people and Canadian hospitals are private. The government simply collects the premiums through taxes or other payment options depending on the province of residence. There is a cap on premiums and people below a certain income level don’t pay at all. You look for your own doctor. You are not assigned a doctor, clinic or hospital by the government. It is far cheaper to have a single-payer system, thus eliminating all the bureaucracy of multiple insurance companies. If free enterprise insurance was the best way to go, why are over 40 million Americans uninsured, a number that is growing. What synical uncaring greed! In Canada, for example, if I need a heart operation, it is covered and I will not be made bankrupt by it. I won’t have to use up all my savings for retirement or sell my house…

    Holden 2009-05-07

    certainly glad I live in a country where we have already decided health is more important than a few rich people becoming more rich on the backs of the unhealthy population.

    PatM 2009-05-07

    Why would the Senate (more properly named as Big Business Lobbyist Group” even consider thinking about possibly looking at a system where they and their future/past employers don’t make a pile of money? The democrats and simply a kinder face of corporate rule – they aren’t “for the people” any more than the republicans. When there’s no possibility of having an effect they talk big but once in power and able to implement policy all the populist positions are “off the table”.

    Jeff Tundis 2009-05-07

    Choices? More and more American can no longer afford health insurance at all. They have already lost their choice.

    Jeff Tundis 2009-05-07

    Looks like Corporate Fascism is alive and well on Capitol Hill, and crosses all party lines. Why is single payer not even allowed to be *discussed*? Simple. The insurance companies and other corporate entities have control of the goivernment.

    shawmutfinlay 2009-05-07

    The ‘Health Care’ industry in the USA is corrupt. It’s ineffective. That’s beyond dispute. But handing control over to the government would be like pouring gasoline on the fire. Will everyone then have to fund the bogus cancer research industry? What choices in medicine would be available to me? Will the government decide for me?

    colleen_fuller 2009-05-07

    That was an excellent presentation, including Paul Jay’s final remarks which brilliantly underscored the contemptuous and even violent response of these officials to voices that are more representative of the American public than the elected ones sitting at the table. I wonder if you might do a program some time on the pressure in other countries like Canada and the UK (among others) to open up their health care systems to private, often US-based health investors? This is changing the landscape in Europe and in Canada, but is one of the “pearls” being targeted by the health services and insurance industries. There is much more at stake in the US health debate than just Americans.

  2. Ultimately we will have to deal with the aristocracy and their representatives the same way the French did in the 18th century.

    Keep in mind also that all these f**ckers have excellent health coverage themselves paid for by you and I.

    I work as an IT person in the health care field (for a branch of clinics serving the “under-served” in a poor state) and the amount of redundant paperwork involved in the claims and cross-claims and cross-cross-claims process boggles the mind. Inefficiency can’t begin to describe it.

  3. Single payer would be most compassionate and fiscally responsible answer to our present health care crisis. Too bad that our Congress is dominated by special interests which block great ideas like single payer from being seriously considered.

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