Hundreds of nurses and activists descended on the annual conference of Americas Health Insurance Plans in downtown San Francisco to protest coverage denials and to advocate for a single-payer healthcare system.
Organized by the California Nurses Association, the largest union representing registered nurses in California, the protest included nurses wearing red T-shirts and carrying picket signs decrying some of the industrys practices and conference speakers such as former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Protesters held up portraits of people denied coverage while others made daisy chains for passers-by. The demonstrators were joined by Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who has filed lawsuits against several insurers over member policy rescissions, and California State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, a leading proponent of a single-payer system and chair of the state Senate Health Committee.
Hilda Sarkisyan, mother of 17-year-old Nataline, who died last December after Cigna delayed payment for a liver transplant, choked back tears during a speech, saying she doesnt know how health insurance executives sleep at night.
Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of AHIP, the trade group of health insurers that is holding the conference, appeared unmoved by the protest. She said in an interview that AHIP hopes to work with the nurses on healthcare reform, with a caveat. To the extent groups believe in only one solution, theres only so much you can do. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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