Yesterday Dr. Margaret Flowers was arrested, yet again for trying to have a conversation about single payer.
She was part of a Mobilization for Health Care for All sit-in at a Baltimore CareFirst health insurance office and was arrested with 4 others, one of whom, Charles Loubert, is 81 years old. She and Charles were planning to stay in the hoosegow until the CEO of CareFirst, Chet Burrell, agreed to a public meeting with her.
Here are Margaret’s own words on risking arrest for single payer:
In short, I am going to be arrested again because I believe that it is my professional responsibility to advocate on behalf of those who can’t and because it is clear that the other traditional advocacy tools are not working. The phrase that runs continuously through my mind is “To be silent is to be complicit.” I cannot be complicit in the face of an industry that profits at the cost of human lives and in the face of an administration and Congress that are too dysfunctional to stop this practice.
Apparently, this mother of three is pretty scary, because despite Margaret and Charles’ efforts, the authorities got spooked and would not keep this pediatrician in the pokey. In fact, they wanted rid of her.
In a message from Margaret:
“Margaret Flowers is home because Central Booking in Baltimore would not send me to jail. Our presence caused quite a stir – not the usual arrestee – and they weren’t sure what to do with us. A long day but we are all well and ready to continue!”
As you may know, Dr. Margaret first felt the zip-ties around her wrists in Washington D.C. as part of the Baucus 8, a group of doctors and advocates who stood up in Sen. Max Baucus’ Senate finance hearing on health care, with a simple question: Why are there seats for the insurance industry but not a single seat for single payer?
One by one the activists stood up from their seats-in the audience, and asked the question. No answer was given. The gavel was rapped repeatedly for order.
Dr. Margaret Flowers stood up. She wanted to talk about single payer as a solution. She wanted to talk about why she can’t care for her patients because of corporate bureaucracy.
But she was promptly escorted out of the room, put into a paddy wagon and charged with disorderly conduct for disrupting a Congressional hearing.
Max didn’t want to talk.
Soon Sen. Baucus found he could not continue the hearing with the interruptions from the crowd and asked for “more police.”
Donna Smith wrote about what she saw that day, eloquently and from the heart as usual.
This day the doctors of the Baucus 8 acted as they always have and always do – they acted in the best interests of the patient. Even though they were facing legal consequences for protesting the lack of a single payer voice in Congress and even though they had their own concerns, they quite literally dropped everything and acted on our behalf.
For me, this evidence of professional integrity and commitment spoke even more loudly to their message about healthcare reform. For Senator Baucus, this is a political process which will feather his cap and pad his coffers ever so comfortably if he keeps the for-profit interests protected and enhanced through this health reform legislative process. His health and his standing in life are safe and secure in ways most of us can only imagine – yet he would deny that health security to all Americans.
This “political process” to which Sen. Baucus subscribes, allows 45,000 Americans to die each year.
Reality is simply more terrifying.