Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Insurance company has activist arrected

Anthem (WellPoint Virginia)Takes Executive Director of the Virginia Organizing Project to Court Next Tuesday for Trespassing

Is it hubris?

Is it a giant PR mistake?

Or is it the health insurance industry showing its true colors?

At a time when health insurance industry malfeasance is a daily focus of the evening news, Anthem, the Virginia WellPoint subsidiary, has boldly decided to put their own customer on trial for asking to speak to a representative about their rates.

On Tuesday, September 22, 2009, Joe Szakos, executive director of the state-wide social justice organization, the Virginia Organizing Project, will stand trial to defend against trespassing charges brought against him by Anthem.

Szakos was charged with trespassing on Anthem’s property in Richmond on July 24, 2009. He and three Virginia Organizing Project board members attempted to meet with Anthem officials to discuss their concerns about a 14.1 percent insurance premium increase and Anthem’s anti-reform lobbying activities. Anthem officials locked the front door to their corporate headquarters when the group approached the building, and called the police to have Szakos arrested.

Anthem declined opportunities to drop the charges. Szakos’s legal defense team has subpoenaed Anthem’s CEO C. Burke King and director of public relations Scott Golden to appear in court on Tuesday.

The Virginia Organizing Project will be holding a press conference prior to the trial where community members will share their own Anthem horror stories and call for their members of Congress to take action on health care reform.

The Virginia Organizing Project is a statewide, multi-issue grassroots organization committed to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives.

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