SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Kevin, let’s start with you. What exactly are you launching today, this campaign of civil disobedience?
KEVIN ZEESE: Well, it’s three groups that are launching it. ProsperityAgenda.us, which is trying to democratize the economy in the way that Michael Moore is starting to get a debate going about, we see healthcare as critical to people getting control over their lives. And a single-payer system is the only way to do it. Healthcare-NOW!, which is the leading grassroots advocacy group for single payer that is joining us. And the Center for the Working Poor in Los Angeles works on issues of low-wage workers.
And the basic thrust of this is, is to highlight the denial of healthcare by the insurance industry. Doctors and patients reach an agreement on what they want, what kind of healthcare is appropriate, and too often healthcare insurance companies say, “No, we’re not going to pay for that.” In fact, there was a report put out by one of the really excellent organizations in this effort, California Nurses Association, that showed that 20 percent of the time when people have agreed on healthcare, the insurance companies say no. Twenty percent of the time. One company was 40 percent of the time. So this is a serious problem. In fact, Michael Moore, when he did Sicko, had 25,000 people write him and say that they were being denied healthcare. So the goal is to say, “Get these people healthcare.”
We’re going to go—and if people who are denied healthcare want to have the community support them, they should contact us at mobilizeforhealthcare.org, and we will bring people together to go to the insurance company and say to the insurance company, “Provide this person with healthcare.” These are life and death decisions, and their profits should not be coming before patients.
But the overlying message of this is that the healthcare—health insurance industry should not be seen as a solution to our healthcare crisis. They are the cancer of the healthcare crisis. We need a single-payer system. And the band-aid, putting over the cancer, that President Obama and the Democrats are pursuing in Washington is not going to make the situation better. In fact, it’s going to make it worse, because they’re going to empower these insurance companies with hundreds of billions of dollars in annual new revenue by having working people, who can’t even afford to put food on the table in too many kinds, forced to buy private insurance that’s overpriced and a pretty lousy product. It’s amazing that we’re seeing the government forcing people to buy insurance, when the insurance industry is the cause of so much of the problems that we’re facing here.
So, people who want to get involved in this, we’re looking for people to sign up to protest, mobilizeforhealthcare.org, and come there and sign up, whether you’re a patient, whether you’re—want to get involved in this. We’ve had hundreds of people sign up already, and we want hundreds and hundreds more, because this is going to be a national campaign.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: So you’re calling for people to stage sit-ins at the offices of private insurers?
KEVIN ZEESE: Well, the first thing we want people to do is to go to the insurance and make a demand: stop the denials. If they refuse a demand, we say we’re staying until you make that—make that promise, and that we’ll stay—I mean, sit-in, and stay until that demand is met. If it’s not met, we stay. We’re not seeking to get arrested, but if that’s what happens, then the insurance companies have to choose: are you going to arrest people for your profits, or are you going to provide healthcare, like you’re supposed to be doing?
How can they say with a straight face, while we’re about to give them hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue and working people’s income, how can they say with a straight face they’re going to deny healthcare? It’s going to demonstrate that these corporations are not the solution.
Single payer is the solution. And so, please, get involved, mobilizeforhealthcare.org. Get involved, get active. We need the people to rise up and say, no, we don’t want this forced insurance company solution that the Obama administration and the Democrats are pushing down the people’s throats.