Going to Jail for Health Care
Posted on Oct 25, 2009
Dissent is alive and well in Los Angeles, with actions like sit-ins against health insurance companies showing a growing disapproval of the sorry state of the health care debate. Some activists are choosing to stay in jail in protest of insurers’ denial-of-coverage policies and in support of universal health care. —JCL.
Mobilization for Health Care for All is a Los Angeles-based group that organizes protests in support of universal health care.
Last Thursday, Sam Pullen joined dozens of courageous citizens who risked arrest in 9 cities across the country to challenge the insurance companies that are killing us and killing reform. Sam participated in the action to honor his mother’s own struggle to force Blue Cross to cover the bone marrow transplant that they originally denied and that ultimately extended her life for two years. He was arrested demanding that Blue Cross immediately approve all doctor-requested treatment for members with life-threatening conditions, and he committed to remain in police custody until they at least agreed to meet with him.
In the last 5 days, Sam’s sacrifice has inspired an outpouring of messages of support on Facebook and via email, attracted journalists to interview him in jail and spread his story, and moved supporters all over America to step up and help lead our campaign. Each day he stayed in jail, our movement grew stronger. Finally, on Monday evening, without even being taken before a judge, a sheriff released Sam from the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles with no bail and no charges.
Though Sam was forced to leave jail without his consent, it is a victory that the charges against him were dropped and the $5000 bail was removed. And even though Blue Cross never agreed to meet with Sam, his compelling story and courageous action helped expose their criminal practices and inspire many more Americans to join our fight to end them. And it confirmed again the great power of even just one person’s deep personal sacrifice for a just cause.
Sam Pullen, shown here on “Democracy Now!” after spending five days in jail, is the son of a woman denied coverage by Blue Cross.