Single Payer Trial for the Baucus 13?

Seven of the Baucus 13 were arraigned in Washington, D.C. Superior Court this morning.

The Baucus 13 are doctors, nurses, lawyers and other single payer advocates who stood up before Senator Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee during hearings on May 5 and May 12 and demanded that a single payer advocate be allowed to testify.

Senator Baucus called 41 witnesses over three days of hearings on health care reform – not one of which was a single payer advocate.

The Baucus 13 were handcuffed, arrested, and now face charges of “disruption of Congress.”

Seven of the thirteen – Dr. Margaret Flowers, Dr. Pat Salomon, Dr. Carol Paris, Russell Mokhiber, Kevin Zeese, Mark Dudzik, and Adam Schneider – pled not guilty this morning.

The remaining six – Katie Robbins, Dr. Judy Dasovich, Dr. Steve Fenichel, Sue Cannon, DeAnn McEwan, and Jerry Call – will be arraigned later this week and next month.

A status hearing for the Baucus 13 was set for June 22 before Judge Harold L. Cushenberry.

The Baucus 13 are being represented by criminal defense attorneys Ann Wilcox and James Klimaski.

If they go to trial, the Baucus 13 will probably face a trial date sometime in the early fall.

Prosecutors this morning asked that the Baucus 13 be ordered to stay away from the Dirksen Senate Office Building – the scene of the single payer actions on May 5 and May 12.

But after objections from Klimaski, the presiding DC judge ordered the defendants to stay away from Dirksen “except for formal business – meaning other than protests.”

“Senator Baucus is charging us with ‘disruption of Congress,’” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “We are charging Senator Baucus with corruption of Congress. We believe we have a stronger case.”

According to a recent analysis by the public interest group Consumer Watchdog, Senator Baucus, the leading architect of health reform in the Congress, has received more campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations than any other current Democratic member of the House or Senate.

According to the report, Senator Baucus received $183,750 from health insurance companies and $229,020 from drug companies in the last two election cycles.

During recent Senate Finance Committee hearings on health care reform, Baucus has refused to allow even one person to testify on behalf of a single payer health care system.

According to recent polls, single payer is supported by a majority of Americans, doctors and health economists.

Baucus has been repeatedly asked over the past months to allow a single payer advocate to testify.

He has steadfastly refused.

“Sixty Americans die every day from lack of health insurance,” Mokhiber said. “Only single payer will save hundreds of billions of dollars in overhead, waste, profits and fraud needed to insure every person in this country. President Obama, Senator Baucus and the corporate Democrats are engaged in the futility of piecemeal tinkering while Americans die. We need to put an end to the private health insurance industry so that the American people can get the health care they deserve.”

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