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Healthcare protestors fight on despite repeated arrests

Opponents of a comprehensive healthcare reform that the US Congress prepares to vote this week have said it will be a restriction of the people's right to choose.

In the meantime, its supporters say greedy insurance companies are putting profits before human lives.

The nationwide debate in the US on the country's expansive, all-inclusive health plan has been going on for almost a year already.

“Healthcare is a human right”

On one side, there are activist groups like “Mobilization for Health Care for All” from the metropolis of Baltimore. Their opponents are multi-billion-dollar insurance companies like “CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Health Insurance”, Maryland.

According to the group, the company raked in $6 billion in profits last year and the previous CEO was given a parachute of $8 million, while nearly 50,000 people nationwide died from not being able to afford adequate health insurance.

“What happens in this country is outrageous,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician. “People are denied care. They die because they're denied care. They suffer.”

“One out of five times when the doctors say medication's necessary or surgery's necessary, the insurance company says no,” said one Mobilization activist.

A member of the group "Mobilize for Health Care" is arrested by police (AFP Photo / Mark Ralston)
Money is the root of all evil, according to Dr. Flowers:

“Their job is to provide a profit for their investors. And they do that by charging high premiums, avoiding people who have problems, and restricting and denying care.”

Protestors have organized rallies in 20 cities across the country over the last month, demanding to have a public meeting with the insurance company's CEO, but that has only resulted in nearly 120 people being arrested during the rallies.

“Of course the basic response was: we're not going to give you a response,” announced the organizers at the rally in Baltimore.

When RT contacted “CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Health Insurance” it said it was a “not-for-profit health insurer, and that it supported major elements of healthcare reform, but not all of them.” In addition, there was no response to the protesters' demand to see the company’s CEO.

Despite the arrests, protesters say they recognize that it is an ongoing fight, and is by no means over.