On September 22nd, around 200 people converged on the Blue Cross/Anthem headquarters at 8th and Figueroa downtown to protest one of the largest companies lobbying against healthcare reform. Participants included retiree groups, union members, healthcare activists, and some folks who just happened upon the event. Hundreds of people drove by and honked, in the Los Angeles manner of demonstration support.
The irony of this protest was that Blue Cross / Blue Shield was originally founded as a kind of "co-op" and took on the role of a private company administering government services like Medicaid and Medicare. They were established in every state, and were non-profit. In 1986, they lost their nonprofit status, and to an even greater extent than before, became a profit-driven company.
One can only wonder if a "public co-op" plan as proposed by moderates and Obama would simply end up being just like Blue Cross Blue Shield after 20 or 30 years.
The protest was organized by Healthcare for America NOW (HCAN), a combined grassrots organizing effort of unions, progressive organizations, civil rights groups, and PACs. HCAN supports HR3200, and argues for a "public option", rather than a "public co-op". It's not clear if it's a national public option, or state based option. They are slightly to the left of Obama.
The protest participants, however, were farther to the left of Obama, and were bringing signs demanding Medicare for All and a national health insurance plan. Some, I suspect, would even want something like Britain's NHS. So, they were here to "support" rather than to fight for what they want, which is a simpler, single, unified national health insurance system.
Photos provided by Myla Reson.
Review of the book, The Blues, at Economic History, provides some background on Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Myla Reson's album.
Video on Democratic Underground / You Tube
Daily News story.
Another facebook album
The crowd packed the corner, and motorists driving by honked in support.
The Billionaires for Wealthcare came to argue for their profits.
Many of the people supporting this demonstration were firmly in the single payer camp, and brought signs to remind everyone that there's more than one way to reform health care.
The entire business model of the medical insurance industry can be explained in a single protest sign. Perhaps they should duplicate this as a cue-card and give this to Obama as a talking point.