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Baucus Healthcare Plan: Arrest Doctors, Nurses

While the health-insurance lobby has been welcomed to the roundtable discussions organized by Baucus, the nurses and their allies were told to leave.

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Gibbs tried to spin it.

"Well, I don't think it was a full meeting of those that might be at the table," the scrambling spokesman said. "I believe that people of varying opinions have been here for different meetings, have been part of the larger healthcare reform summit that was done earlier this year, and I don't doubt that in the coming days differing viewpoints about how to achieve cost savings in increased coverage will be part of that discussion."

If that sounded like a dodge, it was.

But single-payer advocates weren't fooled.

They're raising the banner of real reform higher, with events such as Tuesday's Florence Nightingale Day Protest organized by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee and Physicians for a National Health Program. Explained CNA/NNOC: "May 12 is Florence Nightingale's Birthday – an opportunity to honor her advocacy of healthcare by protesting Congressional hearings that have been stacked in favor of the big insurance companies while silencing the voices of nurses and doctors who favor guaranteed healthcare, as in a single-payer, expanded Medicare-for-all system with a single standard of quality care."

Those physicians and nurses groups, along with Progressive Democrats of America and other members of the Leadership Conferences for Guaranteed Health Care rallied Wednesday with feature key congressional advocates for single-payer healthcare, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Michigan Congressman John Conyers, as well as CNA/NNOC executive director Rose Ann DeMoro, Dr. Flowers and actor Mike Farrell.

The rally was held at Washington's Upper Senate Park, a location outside the Capitol where doctors and nurses are able to talk about curing what ails American healthcare without facing arrest.

John Nichols is The Nation's Washington correspondent.

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