From: Illinois Single Payer Coalition News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: May 16, 2011 5:48 PM
To: ISPC Newsletter/alert List <email@example.com>
Subject: [News IL Single Payer] ISPC E-News 5/16/2011
Sue Saltmarsh, Editor
Single-Payer Lobby Day Brings Illinois Activists Together
On April 11, representatives from the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) joined with the ISPC and activists from the Chicago area, Champaign, Carbondale, Metro East, and Springfield to blanket the Illinois General Assembly with information on HB 311, the Illinois Universal Healthcare Act, and the benefits of a single-payer health care system.
Also joining the effort were Rich Whitney of the Green Party, Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), single-payer activist Donna Smith of "Sicko" movie fame, and Ron and Judy Skala, parents of the late Nick Skala, who was instrumental in energizing the ISPC in its early days and in whose name the presentation at the end of the day was named..
Due to the legislative schedule that day, many legislators weren't due to arrive in their offices until later in the afternoon. But advocates were not deterred. They visited the offices of both House and Senate members, Democrats and Republicans, delivering literature and enthusiasm about HB 311. Just as in a single-payer system, it was "Everybody in, nobody out!"
A press conference was held at which Representative Flowers, AMSA member Aderonke Bamgbose, ISPC Co-chair Dr. Pam Gronemeyer, Champaign County Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lenhoff, disability rights advocate Tyler McHaley, Dr. Quentin Young, Martese Chism from the National Nurses Union, and Dr. Diljeet Singh, Co-president of Health Care for All Illinois, the Illinois chapter of PNHP, all spoke eloquently about the need for and advantages of single-payer health care. While there were not as many press and media people there as hoped, it was covered in the Springfield Journal-Register and on one TV station. To see videos of all the speakers, go to http://www.youtube.com/ILSinglePayer. Thanks to Al and Cat of Illinois Media Progressives for once again being videographers extraordinaire.
Current PNHP President Dr. Garrett Adams was slated to be the speaker at the first Annual Nick Skala Memorial Lecture, but due to travel problems, he wasn't able to be there. Dr. Pam Gronemeyer stepped up to the plate, however, and presented a slide presentation created by PNHP to an audience of SIU medical students and those who had taken part in Lobby Day.
During the presentation, which included stark facts about the state of health care in the U.S., one of the medical students seemed a bit shocked and asked, "Is it wrong that I'm a third year medical student and didn't know any of this was going on?" Her question only highlighted the great need for shining the light on the facts and educating the public, including medical providers, about the crisis most Americans are facing with their health care.
Oak Forest Hospital Survives, Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital Doesn't
On May 10, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (IHFSRB) denied, by one vote, the Cook County Board's plan to close Oak Forest Hospital, one of the few resources left to poor and uninsured people in need of medical care. The vote came after a report released last month concluded that the need for intensive care and nursing home beds would increase if the hospital closed. The protesters that crowded the room, many of them former patients, cheered when it was announced that the Oak Forest would stay open.
"ISPC has been and continues to be involved in the fight to save the Cook County health care safety net," says Giudi Weiss, ISPC member. The vote to keep Oak Forest open is a victory for those fighting that fight and for the people who depend on Oak Forest for their medical care.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle refused to comment when asked if the county would file a lawsuit or pursue legislation that would exempt the county from the IHFSRB's authority.
In contrast, Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital, the only hospital in East St. Louis, was not granted a reprieve. In recent years, Kenneth Hall regional has been reduced to 39 mental health beds and an emergency room that no longer accepted trauma patients. Since 2000, the hospital has been losing $5 million a year and has been cited for safety violations that would require almost $6 million to correct.
Officials predict it will take three to four months to close the facility and open an urgent care center nearby. The Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation plans to move some of the psychiatric beds to a sister hospital in neighboring Centreville.
The crisis faced by numerous "charity hospitals" across the country has gone largely unnoticed, but many teeter on the brink of closure due to state and municipal budget shortfalls, increasing numbers of un- or under-insured patients who can't pay their bills, and a slow economy.
The solution? Single-payer. DUH!
Vermont Passes Legislation that May Be a Path to Single-Payer
As I'm sure most have heard, Vermont's state legislature has voted to pass legislation that would, according to an article in The Washington Post, "provide public health care to all residents regardless of income, moving toward a government-run system that will take it as close to Canada philosophically as it is geographically."
While there is debate among single-payer supporters as to whether or not Vermont's legislation can correctly be called "single-payer," it moves closer than PPACA to the concept of "everybody in, nobody out" that we all embrace. And Vermont's Governor Shumlin said, "The ultimate goal is a Canadian-style system where health care is a right, not a privilege."
There are still unanswered questions about the bill: most importantly, how it will be paid for, what will be covered, and what, if any, co-pays and deductibles it would include.
PNHP issued a statement after the bill passed expressing its misgivings. "The Vermont plan promises a public program open to all residents of the state in 2017, but even then it would allow a continuing role for private insurance. This would negate many of the administrative savings that could be attained by a true single-payer program, and opens the way for the continuation of multi-tiered care," the statement said.
However, other single-payer organizations are cautiously optimistic. "Vermont is leading the way in having an authentic discussion about what a universal health care system would look like in the state," said Katie Robbins of Healthcare NOW. Hopefully, Vermont's experience will provide a learning opportunity for Illinois and other states that have single-payer bills pending.
When asked for comment, Robbins told the ISPC E-News, "I believe that the people organizing in Vermont are strong on this issue and want a healthcare system that eliminates the roles of private insurance asap. We all need to keep fighting and supporting the people on the ground working to make our goal of universal, single-payer healthcare a reality. It's going to be a big fight and we are right in the middle of taking the energy in Vermont and bringing it to the rest of the nation!"
Unlike any other state or national effort, Vermont's progress got extensive national media coverage on MSNBC, especially Rachel Maddow's show. While most viewers of MSNBC are the "choir" who don't need to be preached to, certainly the coverage will be heard of in insurance company board rooms and Republican gatherings.
You can watch an on-demand video stream of Maddow's interview with Vermont Governor Shumlin here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/vp/42773328#42773328
Sanders Introduces Single-Payer Bill
On May 9, Vermont's intrepid Independent senator Bernie Sanders introduced S.915, the American Health Security act of 2011. The bill is the Senate version of Washington congressman Jim McDermott's H.R.1200, which he introduced in March. Unlike H.R.676, which is a bill to establish a national system, both S.915 and H.R.1200 would give states guidelines and minimum standards to establish single-payer health care programs. The programs would be federally funded, but administered by the States.
The House bill now sits in the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions where it's been since April 4.
The Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Finance. Neither have any co-sponsors.
Does America need a new healthcare system? DUH!
Start planning now. In July of 2012, there will be a national march on Washington, the Democratic Uprising for Healthcare (DUH), to demand single-payer healthcare. HIV/AIDS activists came up with the idea to hold the event at the end of July in conjunction with the first International AIDS Society Conference to be held in the U.S. since President Obama lifted the discriminatory travel ban in 2009. A single-payer advocate urged them to expand their vision to include everyone in the U.S. who is living with a medical condition, injury, or disability; any medical provider; any family member or friend—in short anyone who believes healthcare is a human right and wants to see this country live up to its ideals.
As details come together, videos will be posted on YouTube and updates will be posted on Facebook and single-payer websites, as well as in this newsletter. For now, if you want more information or have a question, you can contact Sue Saltmarsh at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in Washington!
Wednesday, May 18, 10:00 AM—"Medicare Under Attack"
Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, 333 S. Ashland, Chicago
Thursday, May 19, 12:15 PM—Single-Payer Lecture
Maywood Rotary Club, 400 N. 5th Ave, Maywood
Tuesday, May 19, 7:00 PM—Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare for All Single Payer Issue Organizing Team conference call – to register for upcoming calls and get the call info: http://www.pdamerica.org/events/view/healthcare-for-allsingle-payer-iot-conference-call-48 
Thursday, May 26, 7:30 AM—Cook County Hospital & Health System BOD Meeting, Stroger Hospital, Chicago
Thursday, June 9, 6:40 PM—Monthly meeting of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 PM—ChiSPAN meeting, Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Friday/Saturday, June 17/18, All day—One Payer States Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado
This is the first edition of the ISPC E-News. I hope it will grow to be something that single-payer advocates in Illinois look forward to and regard as a good source for news, information, opinion, strategy, and perhaps even inspiration.
I welcome any input. Submissions of items to be included in the newsletter are also welcome, with the understanding that they may not be chosen or they may be edited for language, content, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I own my love of, and adherence to, the correct use of the English language. Submission, comments, suggestions, etc. should be sent to email@example.com.
It's quite a mountain we have to climb, be it just in Illinois or in the entire country. There will be many obstacles, stumbles, and even defeats along the way. We will disagree and we'll be frustrated and discouraged. But through it all, we must never lose sight of that day in the future when everyone living in Illinois is in possession of his or her own permanent health CARE (not insurance) card, guaranteeing that there will never be a time when a choice must be made between rent or mortgage and seeing a doctor, between food and life-saving medication, between diagnostic tests and keeping the electricity on. We must also never lose sight of the fact that we are not alone, that this "tribe" surrounds and embraces each of us, that together we can go farther, more powerfully, than we could go alone. In the Lakota Sioux way, there is a phrase, mitakuye oyasin—loosely translated it means "all are related" and speaks to the Native American belief that all living things are connected. So to you, my fellow single-payer warriors, I say Mitakuye Oyasin. May we all be truly healthy.
—Sue Saltmarsh, Editor
PDI mailing list