Nurse, Patients, Consumer Protest Prompts Blue Shield to Delay Massive Rate Hike
For Immediate Release
February 1, 2011
Blue Shield’s announcement today that it would agree to a short, 60-day delay in a gargantuan rate hike was the direct outcome of a protest in front of the insurance giant’s corporate offices in San Francisco, said the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United which called the protest.
Some 200 nurses, patients, and consumer advocates held a spirited picket and rally outside Blue Shield, calling for more fundamental reform to challenge what they called a “ruthless” and “out of control” insurance industry.
The protesters cited Blue Shield’s plan to jack up individual premiums by up to 59 percent, new data from the nurses documenting that California insurers deny more than one-fourth of all claims, and introduced patients who told of the devastating effect of Blue Shield’s actions. They carried placards with the Blue Shield symbol reading, “blue shield harms, blue shield bankrupts, blue shield denies.”
Among those joining CNA/NNU and patients were representatives of Consumer Watchdog, the Courage Campaign, Healthcare Now, Physicians for a National Health Program, and the San Francisco Labor Council, along with other seniors, community, and healthcare activists.
“It’s not hard to connect the dots here between nurses and patients turning up the heat on Blue Shield’s barricaded doorstep the same day it agrees to a brief reprieve in its egregious rate increase,” said CNA/NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. She noted that Blue Shield had blocked off its entrance with barricades and security guards to shut out the public.
“A 60-day delay is a small victory, but it won’t alleviate the pain experienced by patients every day who must endure callous price increases and care denials by an industry that cares more about its bottom line than the patients it purports to serve,” said CNA/NNU co-president DeAnn McEwen.
“Blue Shield’s announcement today won’t stop protests against Blue Shield or other insurance corporations, DeMoro said.
“We can learn a lesson from the streets of Egypt and other Arab countries,” DeMoro said. “Public pressure is essential to confront tyranny, whether you are faced with political repression or corporate control of our health. There are lives in the balance. We can’t count on legislators, regulators, courts or the lobbyists. We have to rely on the mobilization of people to stop these insurance abuses and step up the call for genuine reform, expanding Medicare to cover everyone.”
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