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Health Care Protesters Converge on CIGNA’s WA Office

September 15, 2009

SEATTLE - One way to get your message across about health care reform is to deliver it in person to the insurance company that covers you. Almost 500 people gathered at the CIGNA insurance office in Seattle on Monday afternoon to do that.

Among the speakers was Jo Godfrey, a lung cancer survivor and CIGNA policyholder who claims that doctors working for CIGNA knew she had cancer but wouldn't diagnose it, because, she says, the company didn't want to pay for treatment. Today, she's a supporter of a public health insurance option, and thinks more competition for insurers would mean less of what she calls 'patient abuse.'

"I use that term 'abuse' because I think that when a person is ill and a doctor has taken a Hippocratic oath to protect the life of that patient, and a person is sending them away and telling them there is nothing wrong with them, that is criminal action."

Godfrey points to private insurance companies spending more than one million dollars a day to lobby against a public health insurance option as proof that such an option is needed.

"I really believe that having an option to get a plan that's not controlled by the insurance companies, that doesn't make a profit, is the fair thing to do, and it will save lives."

Godfrey's case is part of an online documentary, called "Sick for Profit" by Brave New Films. She spoke to members of the caregivers' union, SEIU, which organized the rally.

On its Web site, CIGNA says it supports a "partnership between the private and public sectors," and calls a government-run public option plan "unnecessary."

Godfrey's group is at www.unitedpatientsofamerica.org; more information on the "Sick for Profit" project is at www.bravenewfilms.org

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA