In his militarized entourage, armed with tweaks to the country’s health care crisis, President, George W. Bush arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Minnetonka Monday. Headquartered across the street from the Marriott stood United Health Group, the second-largest HMO in the country.
While United Health Group’s CEO, William McGuire has been raking in over $100 million per annum and HMOs across the country have been making hefty profits by denying health coverage to people, An estimated 46 million Americans have been going without health care coverage. Outside, between the hotel and United Health Group, a protest challenging Bush’s market-based health care policies was held.
Twenty-five people representing Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN-MN), a stalwart single-payer universal health care advocacy group, and 15 people from another local activist organization, America Votes, used the Bush visit as occasion to picket and rally.
The picketers chanted “What do we want?”… “Health care!”, “When do we want it?” … “Now”. For this reporter, it was a rare opportunity to hear people singing songs promoting health care as a right and hearing lyrics about single-payer health care for all. Three young daughters accompanied by their mother brought a huge banner that read, “United Holdup Group”. The banner articulated America’s deep frustration with HMOs, the most unpopular type of corporation in the world.
Lead UHCAN-MN organizer Joel Albers, a pharmacist and longtime health care researcher, was interviewed by the local press. To reporters Albers explained why we need to expand health care coverage to a publicly financed single-payer health care system, a system that ensures “everybody in and nobody out.” Albers said, “Health Care should be human right, based on need.”
Albers also expressed the popularity of a single-payer health care system. One thousand physicians in Minnesota were recently surveyed with two-thirds supporting a single-payer system. Also, the Minnesota Nurses Association and many other organizations have endorsed single-payer universal health care.
For cameras and passing vehicles, Karen Redleaf and several others held signs promoting the single-payer solution to the health care crisis. Many motorists honked their horns as they read the signs and passed.