On May 5th the Senate Finance Committee, headed by Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, had a roundtable discussion on solutions to our current health care crisis. There were 14 seats at the table which included experts representing the "for profit" Health Insurance Industry, the Chamber of Commerce and even a scholar from the Republican think tank the Heritage Foundation. Glaringly absent was any advocate for the single-payer health care system despite recent polling suggesting that 60% of Americans would be in favor of a single-payer system. Keep in mind this is only the discussion and exploratory phase for coming up with workable solutions to our current health care crisis. And yet there was not a single voice out of 14 voices to discuss the potential benefits of a single-payer plan. There was Zero representation for possibly 60% of Americans. It is no wonder many Americans in the past 72 hours are questioning whether Democrat Max Baucus from Montana is truly attempting to promote democratic discussions or only holding pay-for-play discussions with his largest campaign contributors, the health insurance companies and the drug companies.
The discussions were televised on CSPAN and were immediately disrupted by doctors from the organization Physicians for a National Health Program. In the end eight doctors, lawyers, and activists were arrested for voicing their displeasure at Max Baucus for refusing their requests to have representation of the single-payer health care system as part of the discussions. Physicians for a National Health Program is a growing grass-roots organization of over 16,000 physicians, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals from across the United States and its mission is to advocate for and educate about the benefits of a single-payer national health care system. Their fight gained national media attention last night on the new and popular MSNBC show "The Ed Show" on every night at 6:00 pm (ET). The host, Ed Schultz interviewed Doctor Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program who stated that their request to have a single-payer voice at the table was denied by Max Baucus.
Dr. Flowers and democratic progressive Ed Schultz both called on Max Baucus to allow for Doctor Marcia Angell to be a voice for single-payer during another upcoming roundtable discussion to be held on May 12th.
Doctor Marcia Angell is no fringe activist. She is a physician who received her M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine and is a board-certified pathologist. She was the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, has published over a hundred peer-reviewed articles in medical based journals and is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The reason she is not getting a seat at the table is pure politics. Doctor Marcia Angell is the author of a scathing critique on the drug companies and their overtly cozy relationship with the FDA. Her book "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It" has been attacked on a consistent basis by drug company lobbyists, Wallstreet, and Republican think tanks like the Heritage Foundation. In a nutshell she is public enemy number one for the multi-billion dollar drug company CEOs and health insurance CEOs.
A recent OpEd in the Boston Globe by Doctor Angell only accelerated the smear campaign against her, funded heavily, not surprisingly by the same drug companies that have given Max Baucus 100's of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
Senator Max Baucus has an opportunity to demonstrate that he believes 60% of Americans deserve a voice in the discussions on what to do about our broken health care system. On May 12th the Senate Finance Committee will hold another roundtable discussion and all progressives and Americans who believe we deserve a better more equitable health care system than the one we are currently getting need to call Max Baucus and demand full representation. Senator Max Baucus' phone number is (202) 224-2651.
If Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) continues to show that he is only beholden to the Healthcare Insurance Industry and drug companies then it is time to actively start campaigning to have him removed and replaced with someone who will represent the people of Montana and not "for profit healthcare". To have a seat at the table for the right-wing ultra conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and not have a single doctor that represents single-payer health care is a travesty. He may be getting $412,000 in campaign donations from the insurance companies and drug companies but wait until he feels the push-back from the American people who are watching friends and family members die because of sky-rocketing premiums and rejected claims by "for profit" health insurance companies.