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Arresting Patients for Healthcare Advocacy!!

Okay, this is an extraordinary photo of a beyond-the-pale moment: Steve Maviglio, the Deputy Chief of Staff to Fabian Nunez, the Speaker of the California Assembly, directing Capitol police to arrest an un-insured patient for speaking to the media about healthcare reform.  That’s Maviglio on the far right, and Jerry Flanagan from ConsumerWatchDog in the middle.

Conversations with press like this happen every day, every hour in the Capitol; it’s why the building exists.

But I guess most conversations aren’t on the subject of the insurance industry’s number one priority-which is to pass an “individual mandate” law.  And most conversations don’t happen as a gigantic fake healthcare reform bill seems to be careening to an ugly defeat.

Which is why most conversations don’t end with patients being cited for a misdemeanor.

We’ll tell what happened and why, below

…cross-posted at the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association’s Breakroom Blog, as we organize for GUARANTEED healthcare on the single-payer model.

It’s a good news-bad news situation.

The bad news is that the insurance industry has convinced some politicians on their payroll to hop aboard the individual mandate train, and pass a law requiring every person in the state to buy one of their products-no matter the cost or the quality.  The train’s rolling here in California, for a test run, before it goes national.

The good news is this bill is about to collapse, and this could well end this nasty little trend in healthcare reform, and open the door to replacing insurance companies altogether with universal, non-profit, single-payer coverage.  The kind that works in every other industrialized democracy.

Meet Ron Norton.  He’s on the far left in the picture, looking confused as to why Speaker Nunez thinks he’s a threat to the Capitol.  He’s been victimized by the Mitt Romney plan in Massachusetts, which is the basis for the Schwarzenegger, Clinton, and other individual mandate plans…and here’s what he’s got to say:

I’m Ron Norton, an adjunct professor of radiology and an administrator at a Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts. But like 66% of our community college teachers, I’m considered an independent contractor and don’t get health insurance.

“After a few years of making about $21,000, I made closer to $40,000 last year because I’m also doing an administrative job. Under the Massachusetts insurance law my family won’t get subsidy because even though my wife has health insurance with her employer, her income is counted against my eligibility.

“Her small employer doesn’t offer family insurance. I imagine lots of California families are in the same situation.

“I’m 47 and have no health problems but the cheapest individual plan available in Massachusetts is $234 a month. That’s 6.8% of my salary. That “cheap” plan has a $2,000 per person pushing the cost up to 12.7% of my gross salary. Even if I bought the policy I still wouldn’t have affordable health care, and the number of doctors is very limited.

“I have a daughter, and it gets much worse if I want to insure her. The cheapest plan for the two of us is $440 a month, $5280 a year. That’s 11.6% of my income alone. The cheapest medium-range plan – without the huge deductibles – is $632 a month, nearly 20% of my own salary.

Details, details.  Doesn’t he know how much money these insurers have paid politicians to support their bill?

Hopefully, and apparently, not enough, as Capitol rumors are abounding now that the Schwarzenegger-Nunez bill is DOA.  Some reasons why:

First-the California Nurses Association has begun major advertising against it.  People generally people trust RNs more than insurance companies on healthcare issues.

Second-It’s becoming clear that voters don’t like this particular mandate. (Warning; .pdf, of poll.)

Third-California’s in a heap of budget trouble, and now is not the right time for multi-billion dollar public subsidies to already-profitable insurance corporations.

Fourth-the “insiders’ coalition” is breaking apart.  I mean, who really deep down likes insurance corporations?

Fifth-Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan is emerging as a total loser.

We might a few more arrests along the way, but we can see the light, and build a template for stopping fake healthcare reform and winning guaranteed healthcare. Or, as we sometimes call it, CheneyCare.

Everybody in, nobody out, nothing less.