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Protesters Arrested at Aetna Office Building

It looks like the ongoing healthcare debate has landed, quite literally, on the doorsteps of the nation's health insurance carriers.

It looks like the ongoing healthcare debate has landed, quite literally, on the doorsteps of the nation's health insurance carriers.Last week, Hartford-based Aetna, as well as other insurers across the country, found protesters outside their headquarters. While just yesterday -- only about 20 blocks uptown from I&T's Flatiron district offices -- 17 people were arrested in a health insurance-related protest held outside the Aetna's New York City offices, according to the New York Times' City Room blog.

from --- The police said that 17 people were arrested after refusing to leave the lobby of an office building on Park Avenue where the insurance company Aetna has offices. They were charged with criminal trespass. In addition, the police said, three of those arrested were charged with obstructing governmental administration.

Organizers said it was the first step of a national campaign meant to publicize their views and challenge claims made by right-wing radio hosts and Republican officials. ---

In all, roughly 50 people participated in the protest, which was held yesterday morning outside Aetna's New York office at 40th Street and Park Avenue and included chants of "patients not profits." A group representative was sent inside to demand that the carrier approve "lifesaving" health care requests made by doctors, the Times' Colin Moynihan reported.

from the --- When that person was turned away, organizers said, 16 protesters entered the lobby of the building and sat on the floor.

Soon the police arrived and a senior officer used a bullhorn to inform those in the lobby that they were breaking the law and subject to arrest. By 10:45, officers could be seen removing the last of the demonstrators and ushering them into the back of police vans.

A spokeswoman for Aetna, Cynthia Michener, said that no protester visited the company's office on Tuesday.

"Aetna has been actively engaged in health reform," she wrote in an e-mail message. "When you put yourself out there like we have on this issue, you make yourself a target. But there is more agreement than disagreement on the need to get reform done. It is important we work together to make health care reform a reality this year." ---

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