For Immediate Release


Mike Hersh, Communications Director:

Donna Smith, Executive Director

Undaunted: Movement for Improved Medicare for All Grows in Illinois and Across the Nation

Statement by Donna Smith of

CHICAGO, Illinois - Just blocks from President Obama's Hyde Park home south of the Loop
in Chicago, more than 70 activists gathered on Saturday, March 27, 2010,
to plan strategy for advancing an improved and expanded Medicare for
all system as the law of the land. Activists across the nation are undaunted
by the passage of the current health reform bill as they know
that mandating the purchase of private insurance is not the same as
providing access to healthcare.

Joining the activists from throughout Illinois was Illinois State
Representative Mary Flowers, chief sponsor of Illinois' single-payer
health reform bill HB311.    

By sharing their successes in advancing the Medicare for all,
single-payer position, the activists spent eight hours together, broke
into issue panels and came away with the formation of four task forces
to explore the most effective and strategic ways to move the movement in
Illinois both in terms of state legislative energy and as part of a
larger national movement.

Among the engaged activists were nurses from various practice
settings and locations throughout the state. Many have seen drastic cuts
to programs and services in their communities, and as patient advocates
remain firmly committed to restoring not only those programs and
services cut but also improving and enhancing patient access and care
until a single standard of high quality care is the law of the Land of
Lincoln and the Land of Obama. HB311, The Health Illinois Act, would
assure RNs in Illinois that no patient would be turned away because they
lacked insurance, lacked adequate cash to self-pay or had been denied
treatment by an insurance company.

Nurses will serve on each of the four task forces created:
legislative, media, labor and direct action. The legislative task force
will assess the work necessary on Illinois' elected officials--both
state and federal--to help advise other single-payer reform supporting
groups how best to motivate those in office to support and defend HB311
and national improved and expanded Medicare for all and how to select
and target campaigns of those wishing to be elected in Illinois to make
sure those candidates are single-payer solid. The media task force plans
to do outreach to local and regional media to develop better lines of
communication and enhance chances for coverage of single-payer issues
and also make good use of the members within the Illinois Single Payer
Coalition who create media on the web and beyond. The labor task force
will work with local labor bodies to enhance advancement of the
AFL-CIO's Resolution 34 supporting single-payer reform and will research
becoming a part of the national Labor Campaign for Single-Payer. And
the direct action task force will continue seeking effective settings in
which to challenge the power of the profit engine--private insurance,
big Pharma, corporate healthcare providers, etc.--with those actions
which will advance the cause of single-payer reform.

Also on hand for the day was Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a
National Health Program. Dr. Young is a long time resident of Hyde Park,
and PNHP has its national office in Chicago. Katie Robbins of
Healthcare-Now was also in from Philadelphia and New York and
facilitated the meeting. Several members of Progressive Democrats of
America's Chicago chapter helped plan the meeting, as did members of the
local and state Green Party along with members of CHI-SPAN, the Chicago
Single Payer Action Network, a wonderful group of people from Access
Living in Chicago, Health Care for All Illinois (HCAI) members, the
Champaign County Health Care Consumers, and a strong contingent of
activists from Springfield and from East St. Louis, IL. Every group
worked cooperatively and with purpose to celebrate the path forward for
all who believe that healthcare as a basic human right applies to every
person--not just those with money or influence or both.

The event was hosted by the Illinois Single Payer Coalition with
tremendous support offered by Dr. Anne Sheetz, who always lends her
intelligence and humanity to the effort to transform healthcare for all
in her state.

My participation was complete joy in seeing a movement that has been
insistently advancing for the past several months firmly plan next steps
and remain undaunted by whatever the political turmoil and tumult in

My home state--and my beloved Chicago--can do so much to entrench
common Midwestern values about right and wrong and human decency into a
healthcare discussion that all too often is focused on revenues and
denials and everything but good health for all.

Onward, Illinois. Onward.



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