Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Plans for March 9 HCAN protest in #DC #hcr

What's in the works:

-- This protest is going to be a MAJOR "direct action"-type event. A couple of thousand people (or more) are expected to participate.  It will be a mixture of community advocates and trade union members.  All major HCAN unions (AFSCME, CWA, SEIU, UFCW, AFL-CIO) are mobilizing for this event.

-- The protest is taking place outside/around a conference of the health insurance industry's trade association/lobby ("AHIP", "America's Health Insurance Plan"), taking place the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, located at 1150 22nd St. NW (bet. L & M Sts.) in DC.

-- The protest will have a definite confrontational character.  Participants will be taking on and calling out the insurance industry for slowing down and/or stopping reform outright, and/or shaping reform how they want to see it: 
  • no public option
  • no national exchange
  • mandates for individuals/families to buy insurance (if you don't have employer coverage or qualify for a public program), with government subsidies to help pay for coverage (what a deal!)
  • little or no regulation of premium prices and increases
  • allowing premium discrimination based on age
  • allowing premium discrimination based on whether or not you participate, or how well you progress in or respond to, a wellness program
  • no or low minimum medical-loss ratios
  • policies with low actuarial values (high deductibles, lots of co-pays, limits on amounts of services)
  • sub-par policies for young adults
  • weak oversight roles for state-based exchanges and regulators
Basic scenario:

-- There will be a variety of ways for people to participate in this event, ranging from the standard (and perfectly safe) protest rally, to edgier/creative activities (die-ins, street theater, etc.), to civil disobedience, to outright attempts at disruption.  People can decide to do whatever they like.  At the very least, attempts are being planned to block streets and/or hotel entrances.  One other idea in development is to have a major political personality "deputize" citizens to "arrest" "corporate criminals" as they arrive at the hotel (not sure what this means exactly, but....)  Collectively, these actions are expected to continue throughout the afternoon and possibly into the evening.  In essence, this event will, to a significant degree, be a rolling protest comprised of various action components being carried out by affinity groups of participants.

-- Each bus (or group of buses), or subgroups thereof, from a given locale is encouraged/asked to plan their own "creative component" for the protest, so put on your creative thinking caps!  It's "let a thousand flowers bloom."  Let's try to come up with something "very New York" to wow the crowd and showcase our unique thoughts and feelings about AHIP and their corporate cronies!  With a little effort, this could be a lot of fun and a very memorable event where we join with hundreds, if not thousands, of other Americans to rip the veil off "Big Insruance" and how they've screwed Americans over for decades while preventing meaningful health care reform from progressing (also for decades) in Congress, all the while profiteering and cashing-in on Wall St.

-- If you'd like to participate in civil disobedience, please let me know ASAP so that I can get you hooked into those components.  Training will be provided, along with legal observing and support should anyone actually be arrested.  Event organizers are looking for "high profile" personalities and celebrities to participate in these components, to help garner media attention, so feel free to reach out to anyone like that who you might know.  Ditto for everyday people with compelling personal health insurance stories, to personalize and dramatize what the fight over health care reform is really all about.

-- Logistics from NYC:
  • We can have as many community buses as we think we can fill from NYC.  So start shaking those bushes NOW!!
  • HCAN HQ in DC will arrange and pay for the buses, plus provide a box lunch that day -- all we have to do is sign people up.  We will plan to leave NYC by somewhere between 5-6 a.m from a location TBA., as it's about a 5-hour trip (given a rest stop enroute) and they want us down in DC by 10-11 a.m.
  • Buses are also leaving from CWA, DC 37, and SEIU from locations around the city.
  • Community contingents will be dropped off and gather at DuPont Circle between 10-11 a.m.  A march will be formed to walk down New Hampshire Ave. from DuPont Circle to the hotel.
  • During the afternoon, small groups of people will take the Metro to go over to Capitol Hill to do visits with NY Senators and Reps.  We will not be able to accommodate everyone who may want to do this, so many will just stay to continue to be part of the protest and/or support/enjoy various protest activities/components.
  • Our buses will aim to leave DC from DuPont Circle before the start of the evening rush hour, so that we can get back to the city before late evening.
Immediate tasks at hand --we only have a week to pull this off, so it's all-hands-on-deck!

1.  Begin canvassing your groups ASAP to see how many people will want to go down to DC for this protest, so that I can tell HCAN HQ in DC how many buses we need.  For now, I'm saying 2, and we can hopefully order more if needed.  Collect lists of names and contact info of all those interested/committed to going.  If each group takes responsibility for their own members, that will make things easiest for all concerned.  (People can also register at www.tinyurl.com/march9rally if need be, and someone will get back in touch with them.)

2.  Put on your creative thinking caps about what you and your friends could do as an affinity group to contribute to this protest.  Or think of something we all could possibly all do together as New Yorkers.

3.  Join us for our weekly HCAN NYC Organizing Committee conference call, taking place this Wed. March 3 at 10:30 a.m.  Call-in no.: 641-715-3715; PIN 790-158.  If you can't make this call during the workday, we'll do another one that same evening at 7 p.m  -- same call-in number etc.

4.  We'll need volunteers for bus captains and assistants and other assorted chores.

5.  Reach out to local media contacts (new and mainstream) and invite them along, or to cover our departure.  There will likely be great media salience.

I think that's all for now -- stay tuned for further details as they evolve.

This is going to be fun -- not to be missed!

Mark Hannay
Co-Coordinator, HCAN NYC Organizing Committee

Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
One Hudson Square
75 Varick Street, Suite 1404
New York, NY  10013
212-925-0806 (fax)

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