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Uninsured Massachusetts Consumer Who Cannot Afford Mandatory Purchase of Health Insurance Flies 3,000 Miles to Speak Out; Is Thrown Out Of Capitol By Speaker Nunez
Date:1/16/2008

Consumer Advocates Reported For Misdemeanors in Clear Case of Selective Enforcement

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Fabian Nunez directed the California Highway Patrol to prevent an uninsured patient who traveled 3,000 miles to speak out against mandatory insurance from telling his story in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday.

The Massachusetts consumer, Ron Norton, cannot afford to buy health insurance under his home-state law requiring all residents to purchase private insurance policies or face financial penalties. He flew out for a hearing that was cancelled, then was prevented by Nunez from speaking inside the Capitol to press and forced to speak in the 38 degree weather outside. Consumer advocates accompanying Norton, and releasing poll results critical of Nunez's mandatory health purchase plan, were told they were being reported for a misdemeanor for talking to the press inside the Capitol, though it is a common practice by lobbyists, and though they complied with the California Highway Patrol's order to leave the building.

CHP officers said they had been notified of the news conference and directed to act by the Speaker's office.

"Speaker Nunez obviously thinks so little of the uninsured that he is willing to throw them out in the cold rather than have their voices heard in the Capitol," said consumer advocate Jerry Flanagan, who was cited with the misdemeanor. "Being ejected from the Capitol for speaking out about the problems with health care is emblematic of a debate that has occurred behind closed doors with campaign contributors. When it's a crime for the uninsured to speak out in the Capitol about health care, it's a sorry sign of a leadership afraid of any criticism."

Read the new poll from consumer advocates http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/hcpoll.pdf

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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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