Protesters Plan 'Arrest' of Health Insurance Execs By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today Published: March 08, 2010 (if: I LOVE this! Maybe a potential advocacy idea for us - if only we could march. If you added medical and government to insurance, this sounds a lot like us: "To expose the high crimes and misdemeanors perpetuated by the insurance industry time after time and year after year, and we are totally sick of it,") WASHINGTON -- Washington might be ground zero for the nation's political protests, but a planned Tuesday rally of labor and religious leaders who will attempt to "arrest" insurance executives sounds like it will be dramatic political theater even in this town. Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), told reporters on Monday that his group, along with a few dozen other labor and religious leaders, will march thousands of people to the posh Ritz Carlton hotel with the intent of carrying out a "peaceful" citizen's arrest of insurance executives who will be there to attend a policy forum sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a major health insurance lobbying group. The purpose: "To expose the high crimes and misdemeanors perpetuated by the insurance industry time after time and year after year, and we are totally sick of it," McEntee said during a press call. "We're going to crash their party and put an end to its injustice." The event will kick off with a rally in Washington's Dupont Circle, led by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, MD, said Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for Health Care for America NOW (HCAN). Protesters will include AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, as well as various ministers and rabbis. After the rally, the protesters will march to the Ritz while brandishing "Wanted" posters with the faces of insurance executives. Once there, they will announce their intent to "arrest" Karen Ignagni, CEO of AHIP, along with executives of Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth Group, and WellPoint. "We're going to engage in civil disobedience to bear witness to the unconscionable rate increases and the death that happens in our current system," said Kirsch. WellPoint's California subsidiary, Anthem, recently requested rate increases of as much as 39% for some of its individual customers. "What's happening in the insurance industry is exactly why we need healthcare reform," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who took part in Monday's press call. Legislation being considered in Congress would end a number of insurance industry practices, including revoking or denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. It would also set caps on the amount of profits insurance companies could make and would require companies to justify excessive rate increases. McEntee accused insurance companies of wanting to "lobby healthcare reform off the face of the earth." Chris Curran, a spokesperson for Cigna, said he wasn't sure whether Cigna CEO David Cordani would attend Tuesday's meeting, but added, "Things like this do nothing to advance the cause of making sure there's access to affordable quality healthcare for all Americans." Representatives from AHIP, WellPoint, and Aetna did not respond to requests for comment. The protesters will also visit Capitol Hill on Wednesday to speak with members of Congress.