With drums drumming, whistles blowing, and pie tins banging, about 60 protestors visited the Twin Cities offices of health insurer CIGNA today as part of a national day of action urging the U.S. Senate to adopt health care reform that includes a public option.
The protest was organized by Minnesota members of Health Care for America Now, a coalition of labor unions, faith groups, and community organizations.
“We have done one action a week for five weeks in a row, focused on the insurance industry,” said Chris Conry, representing Take Action Minnesota. Similar actions nationwide in recent weeks have been cited by the news media as evidence of growing support for including the public option in health care reform legislation.
At today’s action, the protestors moved quickly into the atrium of the Eden Prairie office building housing offices of CIGNA, one the nation’s top five health insurance companies.
Protestors already in position unfurled two banners from the upper floors of building. One banner read, “If the Health Insurance Companies Win, You Lose.”
The other banner, nine stories tall, listed all the conditions cited by insurance companies when denying health insurance coverage.
Two speakers addressed the group in the atrium of the building.
“I’m here speaking to you as a regular guy,” said Mark Brull, Edina. He held up his insurance card, not a card really, but a sheet of paper filled with tiny print. “The insurance companies have hidden behind arcane words,” he said. “They are taking our money… They pay out what they think is justified.”
“They make money by NOT providing health care – by withholding treatments and care prescribed by physicians. There is no choice with the current system. We need a publicly funded health care system that can bust up the insurance cartel and force costs down and access up.”
Ann Marie Metzger, Woodbury, also addressed the group, recalling her experience with paying for medical costs “before greed took over health care.” After one doctor visit when she was a child, she recalled, she remembered her mom saying, “we finally paid off Dr. Friedman.”
“No one came and foreclosed on our house,” she said, referring to studies reporting that health insurance costs are a factor in two-thirds of personal bankruptcies in the United States today.
“The greed must stop,” Metzger said. “It’s time to deliver a public option to the 77 percent of Americans that want one. It’s the only real change that will improve the unaffordable, health care patchwork we currently have in place. The status quo has failed us.”
The group left the office complex within just a few minutes.
“We need to keep this issue in the public space so we can make change,” said Todd Dahlstrom, organizer for SEIU, speaking on the bus returning the group to the United Labor Centre in Minneapolis. “We need to keep making phone calls – and being in the streets.”
The rally was organized by Minnesota members of Health Care for America Now, a coalition of labor unions, faith groups, and community organizations. For more information: