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VIDEO: Activists Demand that AMA Stop Supporting the Corporate Lobbying Group that’s Trying to Kill Medicare for All

CHICAGO – Jane Addams Senior Caucus, People’s Action, One Northside, The People’s Lobby and Illinois People’s Action members held a loud and dramatic die-in Saturday disrupting the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates conference at the Hyatt Regency for 20 minutes and sending a clear message.

More than 40 activists filed into the AMA meeting room just as the opening session was starting. Half of the group stretched out on the floor and individually told their personal, heartbreaking health care stories while the other supporters stood around them, chanting.

Video of Chicago health care activists disrupting the AMA meeting on Saturday.

Most of the AMA delegation remained in the room, many stood up for a better look, some took photos and videos; at the end, they clapped.

The health care activists are calling on the AMA to support Medicare for All, and to end their participation in the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a Washington, D.C. lobbying group. Last year alone, the Partnership, which is made up of corporate hospitals, insurance and drug companies, spent $143 million developing attack ads and launching fear campaigns to kill Medicare for All.

“Jane Addams Senior Caucus members believe that no one should be denied access to

health care,” said Reggie Griffin, a member of the senior caucus. “Contrary to the rhetoric of the American Medical Association and the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, most people support Medicare for All and want more health care – not less. It is time for the American Medical Association to get on the right side of history and support Medicare for All.”

The die-in was part of a rally being held outside the hotel at the same time by a large grassroots coalition that included nurses, doctors, medical students and grassroots activists demanding that the American Medical Association support Medicare for All.

“It’s infuriating to see the American Medical Association collude with pharmaceutical companies and health insurance profiteers to obstruct the Medicare for All,” said Connie Huynh, Health Care for All campaign director for People’s Action. “For decades, the AMA has actively obstructed expanding health care to those who need it most, particularly communities of color.

“It’s time for the AMA leadership to break up with health industry profiteers, and align itself with its own members,” said Huynh.

Here are some of the stories shared by participants during the die-in:

Susan Aarup lost her insurance recently under Blue Cross Blue Shield. She had a bladder infection and went to the pharmacy and found out she had been dropped by her insurance company.

Lillie Young is a senior who lives on a fixed income of $16,000 a year, but has to pay $10,000 out of pocket for her prescriptions and medical care before her insurance will pay for anything.

Gene Horcher is a senior who has friends who have had to spend down their life savings so that they could qualify for Medicaid.

Dr. Marc Willage witnessed the patients he treated die due to lack of medical insurance. One patient in particular had diabetes – a treatable disease – and developed a serious infection in his leg, which had to be amputated. The patient later died because he didn’t have the health insurance needed to treat his disease.

Dr. Jody Ashenhurst is a doctor familiar with the disorganization and inefficiencies of the current health insurance system. She has seen patients discharged from the hospital for follow up with doctors who will not see them under the terms of their health insurance, unintelligible bills, and too many rules, paperwork and insurance companies for doctors to deal with.

Jackie Reynolds grew up in a Chicago community where black and brown children are traumatized by rape, violence and murder. She has struggled with post traumatic stress her entire life. She struggles to access the mental health care she needs due to costs.

Carolynn Ediger’s son, Steven, died of cancer of the tongue. He was a small business owner but soon after his diagnosis, his financial resources, business and health insurance were exhausted. He was unemployable and his disability insurance did not cover his expenses. When he was able to get coverage under Obamacare, it was too late.

John “JJ” Johnson has lived with chronic conditions for the past 30 years, including diabetes, neuropathy, congestive heart failure and COPD. After he retired from his job at Amtrak, he had to wait three years before he was eligible for Medicare and disability insurance and went without any health insurance during that time. He had to live with the stress of figuring out how to pay for all of his health care expenses out of pocket.

Here is a link to a video of the die-in on Saturday at the AMA conference:

Jane Addams Senior Caucus is a multiracial, grassroots organization led by concerned seniors in the Chicago metropolitan area with more than 500 members. We work for economic, social and racial justice for all seniors and our communities.

Illinois People’s Action is an interfaith community organization covering downstate Illinois, We work with local grassroots and faith leaders on justice issues including environment, predatory lending, immigration reform and retirement security.

People’s Action, headquartered in Chicago, is a national, progressive, multiracial, working-class coalition of more than a million people and 48 member organizations in 30 states. We fight for racial, gender, climate and economic justice.

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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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