Nurses, Health Care Activists to Protest Health Insurance Industry in Sacramento
Protest Monday Calling for Expanded Medicare for All
Registered nurses will join with the Campaign for a Healthy California, a coalition of labor and healthcare activists, Monday in Sacramento in a challenge to California health insurance corporations, the latest step in an ongoing campaign to work for guaranteed healthcare for all by expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone.
An action outside the headquarters of the California Association of Health Plans at 1 p.m. will follow a noon rally on the north steps of the Capitol in which the nurses and Campaign for a Healthy California, will join the California Health Professional Students Association at an annual rally for Medicare for all.
“The need for comprehensive healthcare reform is far from over,” says Malinda Markowitz, RN, co-president of the California Nurses Association. “We still see far too many patients and their families who are in pain and crisis because they have no insurance, poor insurance, or are unable to pay the high out-of-pocket costs for needed care. Healthcare justice needs to stop being a dream, and become a reality.”
What: Protest at California Association of Health Plans
When: Monday, February 11, 1 p.m.
Where: 14th and L streets, Sacramento
Campaign for a Healthy California and the RNs plan to serve the insurers with an eviction notice for “1- denying us the care we need, 2- restricting choice of providers, 3- profiting from the frail and sick, 4- ineffective cost controls, 5- unjustified and exorbitant rate increases, and 6- bankrupting our families.”
“Private insurance companies have proven over and over that their priority is high profits and lavish executive pay packages, which they guarantee by squeezing families and arbitrary denial of needed care,” said Markowitz. “The current system has failed, and Americans are falling farther and farther behind other countries that have more humane national healthcare systems. It’s time for this unwanted American exceptionalism to end.”
The solution, say the nurses and health activists is an expanded Medicare covering everyone.
Despite enactment of the Affordable Care Act, up to 30 million Americans, and an estimated 2 to 3 million Californians will remain without health coverage, more employers are dropping coverage or slashing benefits, insurance companies are pushing double digit premium hikes, and far too many people are skipping needed care because of cost.
Further, under the ACA, the employer requirement to provide insurance applies only to businesses over 50 workers and to their workers, not their workers’ dependents, so family members are not eligible for subsidies to purchase hugely expensive dependent coverage.
Meanwhile, the healthcare crisis continues to spin out of control:
• The U.S. ranks last among 17 wealthy countries in life expectancy, according to a January report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.
• Families are postponing cancer screenings, vaccinations and asthma tests for children, dental visits, and other needed care because of high co-pays and deductibles.
• Adults and children are experiencing declines of health status directly linked to the economic crisis and rising poverty.
• Medicare patients are substantially happier with their coverage than are those with private insurance, according to a Commonwealth Fund study last year.
• In California alone, Anthem Blue Cross wants to raise rates by 26 percent, Aetna by 22 percent, and Blue Shield of California by 20 percent this year, according to their filings with the state.