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Video and photos of the hearing and protest are available here

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2024

Contacts:

Linda Benesch, lbenesch@socialsecurityworks.org, 240-342-4301

Megan Essaheb, m.essaheb@peoplesaction.org, 202-427-8083

Washington, D.C. — This morning, patients, doctors, and advocates protested UnitedHealth’s greed during a Senate Finance Committee hearing with UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty. They confronted Witty immediately after the hearing.

UnitedHealth is blocking doctors from providing the care patients need, and they’re bragging to their shareholders about how much money they’re making while they do it. UnitedHealth Group recently announced that they took in $7.9 billion in profit in just three months. 

Video and photos of the hearing and protest are available here, and can be credited to People’s Action. Quotes from impacted patients and other protest leaders are below. All of them are available for interview. The patients will once again be in attendance when Witty testifies in front of the House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations at 2pm ET this afternoon.

“UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty makes billions by denying millions of people like me care. And much of that money is coming from taxpayer dollars. He is literally ripping me off left and right – on the one hand as a taxpayer and on the other as a patient,” said Jenn Coffey, a leader with Rights and Democracy and People’s Action. “I have to spend hours and hours trying to get prior authorization requests for the same treatment over and over. I went to Minneapolis two weeks ago and I’ve come to Washington today to say, Enough is enough. Pay for our care.”

“At 29 years old I had a majority chance of dying and couldn’t eat. UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage denied surgery that would save and transform my life,” said Carly Morton, a People’s Action leader from Beaver, PA. “For months I spent hours crying on the phone with their customer service reps being told no over and over again. After a massive public campaign with 1,000’s of people demanding care for me, help from a volunteer attorney, and assistance from Senator Bob Casey, UnitedHealth finally relented and prior-authorized my surgery. This July I got my surgery. I can eat without pain and I will live. But that’s not good enough for UnitedHealth. Now they are refusing to pay my surgeon. UnitedHealth doesn’t care. UnitedHealth denies care. I know from my own experience.”

“UnitedHealthcare denied medication that could save me from death, blindness, nerve damage and kidney failure,” said Center for Health Progress leader Alysia Dominique of Pueblo, Colorado. “I have worked so hard over the last two years to get my diabetes under control. But to be denied life saving medicine by someone at UnitedHealthcare who’s never met me and who doesn’t know my medical history, that feels like abuse. UnitedHealthcare may sloppily deny care and payment to providers through this Change Health hack. But I’m here to say UnitedHealth denies care to people like me each and every day. Their whole business model is to profit by denying care while paying their CEO Andrew Witty a massive amount of money.”

“UnitedHealth Group’s failure to invest in cybersecurity is emblematic of the way they do business—and emblematic of the way all corporate health insurers do business,” said Dr. Carol Paris of Physicians for a National Health Program. “Even though UnitedHealth Group is making record profits, they refuse to invest those dollars in anything that would help patients and the physicians who care for them. Cybersecurity, robust provider networks, and even paying for basic medical services all take a back seat to padding their stock price and rewarding their investors.” 

“I’m here along with other Progressive Maryland members to help shine a light on the growing crisis in health insurance care and claim denials,” said Jackie MacMillan, a healthcare justice leader who lives in Baltimore. “Our organization is part of the Care Over Cost national campaign. Since UnitedHealth Group’s CEO is here for a public hearing we wanted to attend, too, and make sure that he knows and the Senators know that people are fed up with delays and denials of medically necessary procedures and services from insurers like United.We believe that insurance companies are more focused on their profits than on being here for us  when we need them. People with health insurance plans are asking ‘what’s the point of having a health care policy if we can’t use it to cover what we need, when and where we need it?’” 

“Today, Andrew Witty heard from the people most impacted by the decisions his corporation makes,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works. “He is going to keep hearing from us, everywhere he goes, until UnitedHealth stops delaying and denying the care patients need.” 

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About People’s Action

People’s Action is a national network of 38 state and local grassroots, power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. Our organization recently released a vision for a national Homes Guarantee that has already prompted major legislation from champions including U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. We operate the largest progressive rural organizing project in the country. Prior to endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, we completed a national forum series that The Nation called “the most in-depth, people-powered forum” of the 2020 cycle.”

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