By Margaret Flowers
If you were watching the live stream of President Trump’s rally in Nashville, TN on Wednesday, you may have noticed that at one point shouting arose to his right causing him to wave his right hand dismissively, pause and turn his back to the audience. When he turned back around, Trump said, “One person and that will be the story tomorrow. Did you hear there was a protester?”
Click here to see the live stream. The interruption begins about 1 hour and 24 minutes in.
That ‘one protester’ was Dr. Carol Paris, the current president of Physicians for a National Health Program and a member of the steering committee of Health Over Profit for Everyone, and she was able to get his attention in a sea of people.
Two weeks ago, after President Trump remarked about how complicated healthcare reform is, Dr. Paris sent him a letter offering to meet with him about a simple solution, National Improved Medicare for All. When she did not receive a response, she sent an open letter signed by other members of leadership in Physicians for a National Health Program one week later.
The letter read, in part:
“As leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonpartisan organization of 20,000 physicians and medical students, and as a business leader who desires fundamental health reform, we request an opportunity to meet with you to explain why single-payer, Medicare for all, is a great solution that will meet your stated goals.”
Dr. Paris had not received a response to the open letter when she learned that President Trump would be coming to her home town, Nashville, TN. She knew what she had to do.
At 10:30 am Wednesday, I received this photo from Carol with the title: “In line at the Trump Rally. It’s going to be a long day.” Dr. Paris called me later that day from the bathroom inside Municipal Auditorium. She said she had a sign concealed in her clothing and she was going to try to get her message to the President. I asked if she was nervous. Of course she was, she replied. She wasn’t sure how the audience or security would react despite her non-threatening appearance.
Dr. Paris was patient throughout the speeches and music leading up to President Trump’s appearance. Then, about ten minutes into his speech, she pulled out her sign that read “Improved Medicare for All,” held it high and started shouting over and over “Put your name on a plan that works: Medicare for All.” She was able to go on for several minutes as people around her chanted “USA” to drown her out and police arrived to escort her out of the auditorium.
Once outside, Dr. Paris spoke to several media outlets and met a high school teacher who told her “You’re my hero” and invited her to speak to his class.
I spoke to Dr. Paris again as she waited for her daughter to pick her up. Her next plan is to meet with her Congressman, Jim Cooper, on March 20. She said that she asked him during his town hall recently if he would co-sponsor HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, and he had concerns about its financing. “I expect we’ll talk about that,” she explained.
Dr. Paris is a fearless advocate for National Improved Medicare for All. She travels the country speaking about it and has engaged in direct action before to confront Congress and President Obama. She knows that tens of thousands of people die every year due to lack of access to health care despite the fact that overall health spending in the US is twice what other industrialized nations spend that cover everyone and have better health outcomes.
At the end of our conversation, Dr. Paris reaffirmed her commitment to National Improved Medicare for All. “I believe that the time for it is now and I’m going to do everything I can to make single payer a reality.”
If you are in the Maryland-DC area, you can meet Dr.Paris on April 6 and 7. She will be the keynote speaker for the annual Maryland PNHP dinner on April 6 and then she’ll be leading a Speak Out in front of the Department of Health and Human Services on April 7 as part of the international day against the privatization of health care, “Our health is not for sale.”
Click here for information about April 6.
Click here for information about April 7.