Citizen Activist: Margaret Flowers

By OBOS — May 7, 2010

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Carol Paris

Nominee: Margaret Flowers, Citizen Activist

Margaret Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician who for the past several years has devoted all of her energies to speaking out and organizing for a truly universal and comprehensive health care program, one that goes far beyond the law just enacted by Congress.

Rebelling against the daily injustices inflicted upon children and their families by a profit-driven health industry – especially the big insurance and drug companies – she left active medical practice in 2006 and resolved to work full time for a health plan that guarantees everyone the quality care they need and deserve.

Margaret has since become one of our nation’s most prominent advocates for a single-payer health program, an improved and expanded Medicare for All. Unlike the health bill that was just passed, a single-payer plan would cover everyone without exception, allow free choice of doctor and hospital, and require no co-pays or deductibles. It would also cover the full range of women’s reproductive health services.

Margaret has shown great courage and determination in pursuit of this goal, and has inspired me and countless other women (and men) by her example. She encourages others to speak out and to take action because, as she often stresses, millions of lives depend on the outcome.

A year ago, at the outset of the health care debate, she and I were among eight persons who challenged the exclusion of the single-payer model – a model that is supported by a solid majority of the U.S. people – at a key congressional hearing.

Margaret writes: “On May 5, eight health care advocates, including myself and two other physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the Senate Finance Committee during a ‘public roundtable discussion’ with a simple question: Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have a seat at the table? The answer was a loud, ‘Get more police!’ And we were arrested and hauled off to jail.”

Here’s some footage of her interview with MSNBC’s Ed Schultz shortly afterward (her appearance starts at 3-minute mark) and an opinion piece that she wrote about the experience that appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

Thus began her long odyssey of speaking engagements, rallies, testimony before other congressional committees (Sen. Baucus never invited her back!), television appearances and travel from one end of the country to the other. A retrospective on how she views the past year of struggling for a truly humane health care system appears in the current issue of Tikkun magazine and in an interview on Bill Moyers Journal.

Dr. Flowers obtained her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and did her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She has worked as both a hospitalist in a rural setting and in private practice. In addition to her present work as congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, she is active in Healthcare-Now of Maryland and a co-founder of the state’s Conversation Coalition for Health Care Reform.

Margaret Flowers is a tireless advocate for her patients and for a humane health care system, often making great personal sacrifices to advance our common interests. She’s a women’s hero in my book and a women’s hero in the eyes of millions of Americans.

16 responses to “Citizen Activist: Margaret Flowers”

  1. Dr. Flowers is passionate, articulate, determined and informed.

  2. If anyone wishes to receive a copy of my draft proposal for creating Health Care Consumer Unions (HCCUs) as a means of putting patients and consumers of health care at the table of the health care debates, you can email us at to get one. (this is a free and personal/activist offering with no commercial aspect, whatsoever).

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    California Advocates for the 21st Century

  3. Single Payer should have been on the table since the beginning. If it had we would have at least the public option now. Single Payer will have to be passed state by state as was in Canada. Several states have legislation in process to put it in place. In California we have AB 810 which has passed the legislature twice only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. We need to elect Jerry Brown Governor and hold his feet to the fire to pass it. Learn more about California’s efforts and AB 810 at

  4. Dr Flowers speaks for me! She is a dedicated fighter for patients and therefore for all Americans since we will all one day be a patient. We need health care for all–everybody in, nobody out! And we can do it for less money than we are currently putting into our fragmented, multi-tiered, greedy system. Follow Margaret! She’s got the answer to our health care crisis!

  5. Dr. Flowers IS an American hero to me, as she is a compassionate, knowledgeable person who fights for all of us! Thank you Dr. Flowers for being our champion in healthcare for everyone!

  6. Thank you, Dr. Flowers. Your knowledge, courage and pure clitzpah are precisely what we need to lead the way to single payer health care in the USA. Onward to victory.

  7. Dr. Flowers is a truly principled and courageous woman. I have heard her speak a few times. I hope she will inspire many members of the medical profession to speak up and fight for much better improvements in the provision of affordable and comprehensive health care for all.

    Incidentally, what a clever anti-spam word!

  8. Dr. Flowers is a global heroine. Long may your efforts continue. May you live a long and healthy life. I only hope that you take more time for some self-nurturing, since you give and sacrifice so much for others ….

  9. Thanks for sharing your story its an inspiration to women (as well as men) everywhere and the power that one single voice has

  10. Margaret, I highly respect and admire you and your efforts. Medicare for All is the only real solution to our nation’s health care crisis. Keep up the good work.

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