San Diegans hold 3-day protest at insurance giant Blue Shield in Mission Valley

by on November 1, 2009 · 7 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Health, Labor, Organizing, San Diego

Blue Cross Building

by East County Magazine / Oct 30, 2009

“Is there anything scarier than thinking you might need medical care, and getting canceled by a health insurance corporation who spent your premiums on TV ads and lobbying?” asks San Diegan Mike Copass, co-organizer of a 45-hour haunt of Blue Shield’s office at 2275 Rio Bonito Way in Mission Valley.

The actions are part of a national groundswell of civil disobedience at health insurance company offices by people seeking to end insurance abuse and win health care for all. So far, 115 people have been arrested in 18 cities demanding “real health care reform that treats health care like a human right, not a commodity,” according to a press release issued by event organizers.

Through non-violent action, the group hopes to highlight what participants perceive is one of the fundamental problems with the US health care system – abusive business practices of for-profit insurance corporations. The protest will commence with a prayer service at 10 p.m. on Halloween night, October 31 and ends with a rally at 6-7 p.m. on Monday, November 2nd. A sit-in is planned for Monday morning at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to participate; organizers ask that participants arrive at 9 a.m. for an orientation.

Following an overnight vigil outside the Mission Valley offices of Blue Shield, San Diegans will gather on Monday morning to address their concerns with corporate officers. Health insurance corporations, including Blue Shield, together spend millions of dollars annually on advertising, lobbying, and massive campaign donations to political candidates. The group will demand that Blue Shield’s CEO immediately cease those expenditures, which come directly from premiums paid by the people they insure, organizers of the protest note.

“The enormous amounts of money you’ve seen health insurance corporations lavishing on members of Congress, on non-stop TV ads, and advertising is killing us,” said organizer Jerry Malamud. “Where do they get the money they spend to rig debate about the health care system? By denying care to those who need it most. In California one out of every five treatments is denied [by] an insurance company, resulting in denial of treatments and deaths.”

He added, “hey get their lobbying dollars by jacking up our premiums at quadruple the rate of inflation, and denying essential care to policyholders. Americans are being made to foot the bill for their own enslavement to this corrupt for-profit system. We say ‘Enough!’”

Addressing their concerns directly to Blue Shield CEO Crystal Hayling, participants in the action are prepared to stay until their demands are met, braving detainment and arrest. As another organizer noted: “We think the national health care debate needs to focus on the real problem – the for-profit insurance corporations who don’t actually provide care. We demand that they fundamentally change the way they do business, and next Monday, we’re prepared to stay as long as that takes.”

Participants in the action are supported by the Single Payer Action Coalition, “SPAC” and members of Progressive Democrats of America, as well as allies in nursing, education and labor. The demonstration taking place in San Diego is coordinated with the nation-wide Mobilization for Health Care for All, which is in the midst of a wave of sit-ins and civil disobedience spanning 19 cities.

Although the planned civil disobedience action carries a risk of arrest and prosecution, Malamud and others are undeterred. “Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that passive obedience to an unjust and corrupt system has no place in a truly moral democracy,” he concluded. “We look forward to confronting the insurance corporations and CEOs, and to changing our world for better.”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Monty Kroopkin November 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I posted a note about the start of this action, along with one of the press releases at the OB Rag Letters at http://obrag.org/?page_id=9#comment-28168

The East County Magazine article says the closing rally is at 10 pm on Monday. But, according to a leaflet the organizers are circulating, the rally is at 6-7 pm on Monday.

Below is the text of the leaflet. It has a great graphic, so maybe we can get that up on the blog also. Text follows:

This Halloween to the Day of the Dead
Be Afraid, Very Very Afraid…
of Insurance Companies!

“[Harvard] Study links 45,000 deaths to lack of insurance”
Reuters Headline, Sept. 17, 2009

Join Us for a 45-Hour Candlelight Vigil Symbolizing the 45,000 Deaths Linked to Our Current Health Care System Dominated by Insurance Companies.

WHERE & WHY: Blue Shield (Blue Cross) of California Offices at 2275 Rio Bonito Way, San Diego, CA 92108. As former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, an ardent single payer advocate & original author of California’s single payer legislation, has said: “Blue Cross is double cross, Blue Shield is no shield. They have so many gaps in coverage, so many ways in which they’re going to deny you insurance, and there’s the co-pays, the deductibles, the unaffordable premiums, and as you see, just getting kicked off. Why? Because you used it.”

WHEN: Starting With a Prayer Service at 10 pm on Halloween, Saturday, October 31, 2009, and Ending With a Rally at 6-7 pm on The Day of the Dead, Monday, November 2, 2009.

WHO: All Who Advocate a Single Payer System of Health Care Because They Are Sick and Tired of the Current Insurance Controlled System That is Corrupting Our Political Democracy Are Invited to Participate.

HOW: Please Call Cindy Wilson from the California School Employees Association at (858) 202-2610 to RSVP and Sign Up for a Two Hour Time Slot. Please Wear Black Clothes.

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avatar annagrace November 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Have you noticed how Blue Cross is blanketing us with ads? An obscene marketing budget. Look at their advertising at bus stops. All over the TV. Their message is that shit happens and they are there for us.

Right.

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie November 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

Dont Forget the Rally for Real Healthcare Reform
6-7 pm on The Day of the Dead, Monday, November 2,
Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield offices in Mission Valley, 2275 Rio Bonito Way in San Diego

Reply

avatar Julie Komme November 2, 2009 at 11:41 am

Um, it’s a Blue SHield office, not Blue Cross Blue Shield. Different company.

Reply

avatar Editor November 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Julie – Um, (gulp!) okay, we changed it. Sorry everyone for the cornfusion.

Reply

avatar Monty Kroopkin November 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Union For Single Payer put out an urgent call today for people to try to get Pelosi to honor her promise that a debate and full floor vote of the House would be ALLOWED on the Weiner Single Payer Amendment. It is important that we have an actual vote on single payer, as a record of who (especially Democrats) votes against it may be crucial in the 2010 Congressional elections (and vital to the ongoing fight for free and universal public health care). This is relevant of course to the action going on in Mission Valley. And, time is short because the House will likely be addressing the health care bill this week. Here is the call, unedited:

Action Alert: Call for the Weiner Single Payer Amendment Today!

It appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is wavering on her promise to
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to allow debate and a vote in the full
House of Representatives on the Weiner Single Payer Amendment.

The Weiner Amendment would substitute the single payer language of HR 676
for the language of the proposed House Bill (H.R. 3962). This would be
the first and only time that the full House would have an opportunity to
debate and vote on single payer.

Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), one of the seven co-sponsors of the Weiner
Amendment in the Energy & Commerce Committee, is quoted in “The Hill” as
predicting that the Weiner Amendment could get between 100 and 200 votes.
He estimated it would be in the “mid-100s”.
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/65675-congressman-sees-votes-in-mid-100s-for-single-payer

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman publicly related
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s promise to allow Weiner to bring his single payer
amendment to the House Floor. Pelosi, through Waxman, asked Weiner and
the six co-sponsors to withdraw the amendment in Committee in return for
being able to offer it in the full House. You can see Waxman making the
promise on behalf of Pelosi here:

IMMEDIATE ACTION IS CRUCIAL—CALL TODAY!

We urge you to call Speaker Pelosi’s Washington, DC office (202) 225-4965
and ask her to keep her promise to Representative Weiner and allow him to
offer his Single Payer Amendment.

Also call Rep. Henry Waxman’s Washington, DC office (202) 225-3976 to ask
him to urge the Speaker to honor her promise which he publicly conveyed to
Rep. Weiner.

Call Rules Committee Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter, (202) 225-3615, and ask
her to report the health reform bill to the floor of the House with a Rule
that PERMITS consideration of the Weiner Amendment.

Call your Representative in Washington, DC (202) 224-3121 and ask that
he/she contact the Speaker’s Office to urge her to honor her promise on
the Weiner Amendment.

Then take a look at Donna Smith’s appeal for the Weiner Amendment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHVANCSpnO8&feature=player_embedded

#30#

Distributed by:
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com

11/01/09

Reply

avatar Nancy November 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Local OBcean Shane Finneran (shizzyfinn) posted a video on YouTube about the Monday morning protest at the BS office and the main speaker mentions at the end that they told him that BS is “nonprofit.” Hmmmm….go to YouTube.com and put in: Health care protest at Blue Shield offices in San Diego to see the group in action.
Nancy

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