If anyone doubted that the pressure to pass ObamaCare comes from people openly hostile to insurers and who want to use a public option to put them out of business, look no further than the activists at Health Care for America Now (HCAN). The lobbyist-funded Astroturfers took their protests to the headquarters of health insurers Monday, including UnitedHealth Group of Minnetonka, MN, where they declared insurance offices to be “crime scenes” and blocked the doors. The numbers may be small, but the insurers are backpedaling nonetheless:
The six people in Monday’s protest were blocking the doors to the Minnetonka headquarters of insurer UnitedHealth Group.
On Tuesday, thousands rallied in California in front of Anthem Blue Cross offices in cities from San Francisco down the coast to San Diego.
The Health Care for America Now group is organizing similar protests in front of offices of major private health insurance companies to officially declare them a crime scene.
Health Care for America Now is making a strong push for federal healthcare reform legislation to include the so-called public option, which would add government-supported medical insurance into the mix available for the currently uninsured.
Six people? That would be six whole people, right? Actually, those were just the demonstrators who got arrested, but it still only drew 110 people:
About 110 protesters sang and spoke about the need to change the way health care is organized and financed in the United States, and said that insurers such as UnitedHealth are making people sicker because the system doesn’t offer proper coverage for many patients.
They cited what they said is UnitedHealth’s practice of “denying care and claims in order to generate record profits.”
The demonstration was organized by a group called Health Care for America Now in Minnesota, a coalition of labor unions, faith groups and activist organizations, including Education Minnesota, the AFL-CIO and Isaiah, a social justice group that includes more than 60 congregations.
Actually, HCAN is a well-funded Astroturf group that gets $40 million from lobbyists. Even with that kind of funding and “more than 60 congregations,” they could only turn out less than two people from each of those churches. That’s terribly unimpressive, especially in a populist region like the Upper Midwest, and a liberal metropolis like the Twin Cities.
This gives insurers an opportunity to point out the fringe nature of these policies. According to an internal e-mail provided to Hot Air, however, it appears that six people are all it takes to put UnitedHealth on the defensive:
UnitedHealth Group strongly supports health care reform and making coverage available to all Americans. As our nation continues to debate how to best modernize our health care system, we must be respectful of individuals’ varying perspectives on this important issue.
On Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4:30 p.m., we are expecting a group to assemble outside our office to voice their views about the health insurance industry. While there may be rhetoric that attacks our industry and mischaracterizes our contribution to the health care system, we recognize that everyone has a right to express their opinion as long as it’s done respectfully.
We would like to provide a few general reminders:
- Employees are asked to use their ID and access badge to enter the building on Thursday;
- Please do not allow anyone to “piggyback” into the building behind you, and do not admit individuals without an employee ID;
- Be thoughtful about who you talk to; idle comments and speculation can be misrepresented by the media, demonstrators and others;
- Do not make any statements to the media or other individuals who approach you for comment — all media inquiries can be directed to Daryl Richard at ext. 2-5795;
- Be alert and report any suspicious activity to our on-site security staff at ext. 2-8000.
We are not letting these types of activities divert us from our mission of helping people live healthier lives, or from our constructive role in tackling the complex task of achieving sustainable changes in our health care system and giving more people the access to the care they need and deserve. The passion you bring to your job everyday continues to make a difference in the lives of the millions of Americans we serve, and we thank you for that hard work.
That’s pretty much SOP for both security and PR, and at least the former is quite understandable. Instead of asking employees to remain passive and silent in the face of these slanders and absurdities, however, UnitedHealth should be creating opportunities for its employees to answer back with facts. UnitedHealth should part with its bunker mentality, which cedes the media ground to the nutcases, and start fighting for its life in the court of public opinion. Because if they continue to avoid the public debate, they won’t remain in business for very much longer.