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Best Protector of Profits at the Expense of Our Health

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DC often feels left out of politics. We don't have a vote in Congress, and so we can't give our Congressional delegation a call when we want reform. But today, DC got to make its voice heard.

As noted earlier, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is having a conference on "health care reform" at the Ritz in DC today and tomorrow. This is a continuation o their sham listening tour, which Health Care for America Now has been calling out around the country for months. It's all part of their blurring strategy to try and convince the country they are for real health care reform this time around, even though the public health insurance option, the heart of President Obama's health care plan, is a dealbreaker for them.

Health Care for America Now, and the partners we worked with on this rally such as the National Nurses Organizing Committee, the California Nurses Association, the American Medical Student Association, DC for Obama, DC Fights Back, The Vineeta Foundation,, the Campaign for America's Future, and the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, aren't standing for it. The insurance industry has already come out against a key piece of President Obama's health care reform. They clearly aren't helping come up with a solution - they are the enemies of reform.

So, in DC today, these groups got together to deliver an award to Karen Igagni, CEO of AHIP. Here's what we tried to present:

As could be expected, she didn't want to come out, face the crowd, and get her well-deserved certificate. But a couple hundred people had a good time pointing out the insurance industry will always put profits before people. Here's some quick video of the event:

The biggest highlight was the presence of Congressman Eric Massa's (D-NY). It's heartening that Members of Congress are willing to join a rally to send the message that we can't trust the health insurance industry with health care reform. And apparently we made so much of a splash, that Ignagni and her henchmen had to respond to our concerns during their press conference later that morning:

The protest ended when the group tried to enter the Ritz to deliver an oversized award certificate to KarOuren Ignagni, AHIP's president and CEO. The "Best Protector of Profits at the Expense of Our Health" award didn't make it past security guards or a strategically-parked car near the entrance.

"I believe in First Amendment rights," Ignagni said when asked about the protest during a subsequent press conference. "We're motivated by going through a process of taking issues off the table that are troubling the American people."

We're not giving up. We know the health insurance industry will be the main enemies of health care reform. As President Obama said, the status quo is off the table. It's time to fundamentally reform our system, and that means putting people over insurance industry profits.

This award will follow AHIP and Karen Ignagni around the country until she agrees to accept it and own up to her role in protecting profits even if it costs lives.

We'll see you next time, Karen! We're looking forward to it!

(also posted at the NOW! blog)

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