March 9th, 2010
07:11 PM ET
13 years ago

Activists picket health insurance executives

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former presidential hopeful and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean spoke with reporters Tuesday after participating in a protest about health care reform."]
Washington (CNN) - Activists ratcheted up the pressure for health care reform Tuesday, picketing in front of a hotel where a group of insurance industry leaders were meeting.

More than 1,000 protesters, including representatives of organized labor, marched through downtown Washington before stopping in front of the Ritz Carlton, site of the annual conference of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an insurance industry lobbying group.

"We're fired up (and) can't take no more," the marchers chanted as they unfurled an oversized roll of yellow police tape emblazoned with the words "corporate crime scene."

They were led by, among others, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a prominent backer of reform legislation.

The protest came one day after President Barack Obama tore into health insurance companies for recent rate hikes. The administration "will continue to make a forceful case" for reform in the days ahead, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked to address the AHIP conference later this week, Gibbs noted. The secretary would likely also discuss the issue of recent rate increases, he added.

The increasingly heated populist rhetoric, according to many analysts, is part of a strategy to pressure wavering Democrats to back the president's sweeping reform plan.

Obama has called for a final up or down vote in Congress within the next few weeks. No Republicans are expected to vote for the nearly $1 trillion package.

"The Republicans are ... proving themselves the party of 'no,'" declared Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate.

A handful of protesters were escorted away by law enforcement officials.

Gibbs said last week he expects the House to approve the Senate bill by March 18. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, however, pushed back against the idea of next week's deadline, telling reporters that "none of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr. Gibbs."

"We are trying to do this as soon as possible," Hoyer said. "That continues to be our objective."

After the House acts, according to Democratic sources, a separate package of changes designed in part to make the overall measure more palatable to House liberals would then be approved by both chambers - getting through the Senate under a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation. Bills passed under reconciliation require only a bare Senate majority of 51 votes.

Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate supermajority with the election of Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown in January.

Only 25 percent of Americans believe Congress should pass the health care bill Democratic leaders have been working on for the past year, according to a February 12-15 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. But the survey also noted that Americans overwhelmingly approve of many of the bill's specific provisions.

Obama on Monday dismissed concerns over any political fallout tied to the health care issue.

"The issue here is not the politics of it," he said. Congress and the president were sent to Washington to "solve the big challenges."

–CNN's Paul Courson, Deirdre Walsh and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. ib

    Obama is smart; getting people to go after health co, exc. without looking at what is really in Obamacare. Smart but sad. Please really look people; the cover is different from what is inside.

    March 9, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Obama the Arrogant Liar

    these loons are listening to Howard Dean????They need mental health care more than anything.

    March 9, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. Christi

    Why can't we get healthcare reform that starts with cutting the profits possible for the insurance companies? Also, lobbyists obviously run Washington, not the Pres, Congress or the people. Why is lobbying even legal? Is anyone working to make it illegal?

    March 9, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. Al Chesapeake, VA

    Dean has a lot of nerve coming from the insurance belt and probably took a lot of change from them during his campaigns. Even Obama had them at the White House for a chat. The Dems will soon become the party of "NO more America" if they keep borrowing from China.

    March 9, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Albo58

    Complete Dimwit sheeple!

    March 9, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Winkzilla

    I thought protesting corporate greed had become illegal, as it can only be socialist's shenanigans. Right?

    And what do they say about people who work hard?

    Oh yes, they work hard figuring out ways to slip your money into their pockets, so they should be able to keep it.

    We need more protest.

    March 9, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. willard bullock

    Iwant to keep payment for medicare from caterpillar but I don't need pay to health insurance cause obama have too much problems

    March 9, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. once upon a horse

    it's ABOUT TIME that we have some folks that are in favor of healthcare reform get out there and show that they are. We've seen enough of the tea party folks and the GOPers out spreading falsehoods that nobody wants health reform. More people are in favor of this than you think and if nobody really wanted it why are the Republicans fighting so hard to try to stop it? If they feel the Dems are going to hang themselves in November if HC passes, then why not let them do it?

    March 9, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. Pragmatic

    ' Health insurance premiums have gone up 128% in the last 10 years. How much more can you afford to pay?

    March 9, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. hongli

    Is Howard Deen related to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin?

    March 9, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Ha! Thats awesome. Bout time someone start publicly calling these thieves out!

    March 9, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. John in WV

    It's about time that the American people let McConnell, Hatch, McCain, and their insurance buddies know that when they say the AMERICAN PEOPLE do not want health reform, they are not being truthful. You repubs keep worrying about the next elections and watch the AMERICAN PEOPLE who want and need health care turn into the dog that decides to jump up and bite your ass.

    March 9, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  13. Jenn, Philadelphia

    I guess the next stop on the tour is the executives homes, just like they picketed the homes of Wall Street executives. Some of the other stops are the hospitals who charge $100 for a toothbrush and $50 for aspirin, then on to the doctors who schedule needless tests as defensive medicine, and finally, we'll end at the trial lawyers who sue even when there's no injury. Oh, wait, we won't go after the lawyers, Congress is full of them. The only thing this President has succeeded in is starting a class war.

    March 9, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  14. j

    It's about time Liberals, Progressives, and other like-minded people got vocal. The right has been far too loud over the past year and their voice isn't supported by numbers.

    March 9, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Dennis in AZ

    Talk about "astro turf?" Someone call Darth Pelosi and show her this footage–THIS is Astroturf!

    March 9, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Mike in MN

    An astro turf protest lead by Democrat Howard Dean. And a protest organized by the Democrat party of NO TO THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO WANT OBAMACARE KILLED. NO TO THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO WANT CONGRESS TO START OVER AND WRITE A BETTER BILL. NO to the will of the American people on the stimulus, auto bailouts, growth in government spending and cap a trade. The American people get to register the final NO vote in November when they run the Democrats out of office.

    March 9, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. Kathleen

    Thanks to organized labor and Howard Dean.

    From a retired person who cares to see others obtain Health Care for all. I don't believe Republican Scare Tactics-Never did, Never Will.

    I've listened to their lies long enough. their tactics just don't work in a
    Constitutionally run Government.

    They are speaking AGAINST the very constitution of the U.S.A. when they say NO BIG GOVERNMENT-meaning you, the people will not be taken care of. Republicans to me, in my opinion remind me of a COUP
    against our Government and who we elected.!!!!!!

    March 9, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. JLM

    The Insurance leaders probably was discussing more ways to continue robbing the American people with the help from the GOP.

    March 9, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Note the bias

    Note the difference in coverage this protest gets compared to the Tea Party protests opposing health care reform.

    Huge difference! Way to go, CNN.

    March 9, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. jojo

    Yah ,it is time now to all those hard working citizen tired of these politicians trying to block health care reform come out in large numbers and show that they are pro health care reform,we voted for obama to fix health care reform so it need to pass and those against should know majority of americans we support reform.....tired of politicians lying to us.

    March 9, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  21. nathan smith ga

    oooh i wish i could have been there may God bless those willing to stand up for ALL Americans.

    March 9, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  22. Desmond in Canada

    Corporate Crime Scene – Darn Right!

    March 9, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Bugs in Pa

    Lets get out of here doc, their too smart for me.

    March 9, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  24. Texas Jack

    You're picketing the wrong organization. OBAMA is laughing while you do his ignorant stuff. You idiots are playing right into his hands. His goal is the destroy America internally.

    March 9, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  25. gcole

    Good for them. There were 1000 of them and only 500 at the tea party convention.Funny how the 'liberal media' doesn't give as much coverage to those who want health care reform. All I hear from them is that no one wants it. I hear that it is needed from others including my rep friends.

    March 9, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
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