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Blue Cross Customer Arrested for Questioning Rate Increases

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John Manning

Nov 25, 2009, 4:13:30 PM11/25/09

Joe Szakos leads the Virginia Organizing Project, an almost fifteen
year-old community organization that Health Care for America Now works
with in Virginia to organize for health care reform. Szakos's
organization employs dozens of people, and they get their health care
through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

This year, Szakos was informed that Anthem was going to increase the
premiums on Virginia Organizing Project's health plan by 14.1%.

Around the same time, the Virginia Organizing Project received an email
from Anthem:

We strongly support reform that builds a strong, sustainable
private-sector health care system - and strongly oppose creating a
government-run health plan. We are urging our elected officials in
Washington to take bipartisan action that will accomplish that. We are
educating policymakers in Washington and working with our trade
associations to encourage Congress to build on the current system and
not disrupt the quality, affordable coverage on which our members depend�.

As our elected officials debate health care, they need to hear
directly from you.

Szakos immediately had some questions for Anthem. Chief among them, why
is Anthem using its resources to lobby against health care reform with a
public health insurance option while at the same time increasing rates
by 14.1%?

Szakos, along with three other Virginia Organizing Project board
members, went down to Anthem's offices in Richmond, VA to ask. He left
in handcuffs.

Watch the video:

Szakos, a customer, couldn't get an answer from Anthem. There was no
justification for raising rates on one hand, and spending money lobbying
against health care reform on the other. And instead of trying to offer
Szakos an explanation, they had him arrested.

UPDATE: Szakos� trial began on Monday, and the judge decided to dismiss
all charges.

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