Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Emergency! Nov. 4 rally against Cook County health care cuts

Stroger Hospital Emergency Room
Stroger Hospital Emergency Room

Yesterday, I had surgery at Stroger Hospital. My appointment was for 6:30 a.m. But the hospital was so overwhelmed that didn't get my operation until after 5 p.m.

I spent the whole day lying on a gurney in the pre-op area. Afterward, I was in terrible pain they were unable to get controlled, but they still sent me home because — the nurse said — there were patients in even worse shape that they didn't have beds for.

Now services may be cut further.

Protest at Stroger Hospital
4 p.m. Wednesday, November 4
West Ogden and South Damen avenues, Chicago

From the Chicago Single Payer Action Network:
Our health care system is under attack! Our hospitals and clinics which serve over 80% poor, black, latino and immigrant people are being dismantled. If we don't fight back against these attacks the patients served with be left without healthcare.

Where will we go when we get sick and can’t afford the $10-$50 dollar co-pays per clinic
visit?! What clinics will we go to when they become run by the federal government and bill for their services? Where will we get our medicines when our pharmacies are eliminated because our clinics are sold off? What hospital will we go to when the in-patient services are

This is what CEO Foley and the new governing board is proposing. Already over 300 nurses, doctors and medical staff have received lay off notices and there are still more to come! Every
attack on our health care workers and our hospitals and clinics is ultimately an attack on us.

We cannot remain silent! We have got to fight back. THESE ARE THE PROPOSED CUTS:
  • Eliminate all of inpatient care at Provident Hospital!
  • Eliminate all of inpatient care at Oak Forest Hospital!
  • Close more ACHN clinics and turn others like Robbins Community Clinic and Cottage Grove into Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Charge $10 co-pays for every clinic visit!
  • 900 unfilled positions are already eliminated!
  • 500 more lay-offs still to come!
More information from UP.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Health-care activists arrested in Chicago sit-in

Arrests at Cigna in downtown Chicago yesterday. (Via Illinois Media Progressives.)

Police dragged seven health-care protesters from a pro-reform sit-in at Cigna's downtown Chicago offices yesterday, dragging them by hands and feet. Outside, a rally whose members included Illinois Rep. Mary E. Flowers (D-31st) chanted, "Cigna profits! People die!"

I don't know who the brave individuals who let themselves be arrested were, but they have my profound gratitude. All I know is that they represent the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, the Chicago Single Payer Action Network, Progressive Democrats of America and Physicians for a National Health Care Program.

No news media troubled to report the names of those arrested. AP did a short item on the story, which is all the Chicago Tribune ran. No other mainstream Chicago media covered it at all, so far as I can tell.

"And we will stand with you, as you have stood with us," wrote the Sun-Times today, announcing its new owners. I'm glad the paper will survive.

But where were you yesterday?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

RIP Nicholas Skala, Chicago advocate for single-payer


Single Payer Action interview with Nicholas Skala, June 12, 2009
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of 27-year-old Nicholas Skala. Mr. Skala, who died suddenly of unknown causes in his Chicago home last weekend, was one of the most dedicated campaigners on behalf of single-payer health care. His death is a terrible loss to the movement.

A one-time staff member of Physicians for a National Health Program, Mr. Skala continued to work for the cause as a volunteer even after he had left the organization to go to law school. He was a dedicated and talented advocate.

Dr. Ida Hellander, executive director of PHNP, wrote:
"His incisive mind, wide-ranging knowledge and formidable skills of argument were devoted entirely to bringing about a better world for everyone.

"To his friends and co-workers, he was an extremely witty and compassionate human being, and a great source of inspiration and encouragement.

"Nick had only recently returned to Chicago from two months in Washington, D.C., where he contributed significantly to the cause of single-payer health reform in multiple ways. He was committed to working for PNHP in our Chicago office during the next six weeks prior to his return to his classes at Northwestern University Law School.

"His death is a heavy blow to our organization and to the entire single-payer movement.

"We vow to redouble our efforts to bring about Nick Skala's vision."
I never met Nick Skala or spoke to him, but we exchanged e-mail on several occasions. He was unfailingly polite, interested and prompt in his replies to a random blogger, which made him nearly unique in my experience of trying to communicate with local health-care reformers.

I express my sincere condolences to Mr. Skala's family and friends, to his colleagues at PNHP, to the single-payer cause in general and to society as a whole. We are all poorer for the loss of such a promising young man.

A funeral service for Nicholas Skala will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Lauterburg-Oehler Funeral Home, 2000 E. Northwest Highway, Arlington Heights. Visitation will take place from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

According to PHNP, Mr. Skala's parents, Judith and Ronald Skala, have invited all of his friends to attend, and ask that, in lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory be made to Physicians for a National Health Program, 29 E. Madison St., Suite 602, Chicago, IL 60602.

Sympathy cards can be sent to Judith and Ronald Skala, 12215 Lakewood Glen Ct., Cypress, TX 77429. Condolence messages sent to PNHP or the funeral home will be forwarded to the family.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire! 10 lies about health-care reform

Sarah Palin is a winking liar

I'm not normally one to give way to obscenity but WTF?!

It seems as if Republicans like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have gone off the deep end and are trying to make Americans believe that health-care reform is going to create some kind of Soylent Green-like society where the sick will be ground up for bread. According to Palin:
"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Palin seems to be confusing Obama's plan with our current system in which a "death panel" of insurance-company bureaucrats decides who's worthy of health care based on what will generate the most profits, and anyone who's so unproductive as to be sick and out of a job may as well curl up and die. That's the evil America Sarah Palin knows and loves!

Please note that this isn't coming from some wacko fringe element of the Republican Party. This is coming from a woman whom the party seriously considered suitable to be second-in-command to the leader of the free world.

Anyway, I've decided that if Palin and other Republicans can get away with promulgating sick lies, outrageous untruths and off-the-wall innuendo about health-care reform, so can I.

Here are some of those I'm spreading. Feel free to join in by repeating them as often as possible and coming up with your own.
  1. Health-care reform will cure the common cold.

  2. Republicans masterminded the Twitter denial-of-service attack…in an effort to stop pro-health-care reform tweets.

  3. Under single-payer health care, all Americans will receive an annual free visit to a health spa.

  4. Universal health care means your pets will get free veterinarian visits, too.

  5. A Republican doctor invented a cure for cancer but party members convinced him to suppress it in order to protect insurers' profits.

  6. The health-reform bill will fund construction of 1,000 new medical & nursing schools, creating millions of jobs.

  7. Why are anti-health-care reform Rep. Mark Kirk's divorce records sealed? Is it true about the sheep?

  8. U.S. ballplayers threaten strike if health-care reform isn't passed before the World Series. "Some things are more important than baseball," sluggers say.

  9. Rush Limbaugh says he's now supporting H.R. 676.

  10. Staffers sorting George W. Bush's cast-offs in the White House basement have discovered a huge cache of gold and platinum. The administration says there's enough there to fund heath care for all American for 20 years. The deposit was labeled "Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dis-invited from White House, Obama's Chicago doctor eloquent on health-care reform

Dr. David Scheiner, who was Pres. Barack Obama's personal physician for 22 years, until Obama went into the White House, speaks out forcefully for single-payer health care in this video, and he is no fan of the president's plan, or that of those that were being hashed out in the House and Senate, before those legislators gave up and went on vacation. (About 1,800 Americans will die as for lack of health care during the August recess, but what does Congress care?)

"If I had a single point to make about what is going wrong with this health reform is that the public is so uniformed. They think somehow that they get the best care in the world. We know by health statistics we're 37th. Even people with good health insurance don't realize that the health care they get is often not appropriate...."

He's right. And most people haven't a clue as to what "single payer" means.

While single-payer is getting a little more attention at last, it's extremely interesting to see that Scheiner was dis-invited from the recent White House press conference on health-care reform. (I don't supposed that mattered much to the cause of single-payer, since everything that was said at that event was immediately swallowed up in the furor after Chicago Sun-Times Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet asked about Skip Gates.)

I would very much like to know whether the impetus came from Pres. "Small Change" Obama's side or from ABC's.

Journalism is not covering the issue of health-care reform well. I agree with Maggie Mahar: Tbe media are not giving the public the information they need in order to understand all of the sides of this issue, and is failing in their critical role of analysis.

Why is what beer the White House serves worth more ink than H.R. 676?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Health-care reform: The progressives awake!


Rachel Maddow: The gloves come off on health-care reform.

I feel a little more hopeful about health-care reform today. It looks as if progressives in Congress may be finally waking up from the dead.

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's move to showcase the hypocrisy of conservative House members on government-run health care was hilarious. He proposed to eliminate Medicare. Of course, not a single congressman voted for it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's strong language painting insurance companies as villains was good to hear.

It also sounds as if House Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) thinks the Blue Dog Democrats can be brought to heel on a public option. In a letter to constituents, Frank wrote:
I am a strong supporter of single payer, and I do reluctantly accept a full public option as the best we can do. So I am strongly committed to a public option and I will not vote for a bill that does not include a nationwide, genuine public plan.
Meanwhile, 57 members of Congress have signed a letter saying, "Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates — not negotiated rates — is unacceptable," and promising not to vote for the Blue Dog "compromise" bill currently on the table.

Signers include Illinois congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-4th), Phil Hare (D-17th) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2nd). I'm deeply disappointed not to see the names Danny Davis (D-7th), Bobby Rush (D-1st) and Jan Schakowsky (D-9th) on this list. If your representative's name isn't there, urge him or her to take the pledge.

While you're at it, send a note to Pres. Onamby-pamby urging him to promise he won't to sign any bill without at least a strong public option. Remind him that when we voted for change, we didn't mean small change. Tell him you want real change, like the single-payer option he used to say he supported.

There's also hopeful news on single-payer, perhaps. In order to get
Weiner to withdraw his amendment to replace the House Energy & Commerce Committee's bill with the single-payer H.R. 676, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said that he had spoken with Pelosi, and she had pledged that single-payer would get a debate and floor vote and a debate on single payer in the full House! I'll believe it when I see it, but if it turns out to have been a mere ploy to get Weiner to shut up, Waxman is going to be up against the wall when the revolution comes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health-care reform and the living dead

Zombies take over the streets of Chicago, July 25, 2009

I haven't posted in a while. I've been feeling worse again, and I've been depressed over the way that health-care reform is going. I'm becoming convinced that if anything passes at all, it's going to be so watered down as to be useless, or make matters even worse. And I don't see that any of the plans now being bruited in Congress are going to be any help to me at all.

However, if anyone's still checking in, I wanted to draw your attention to Ellen Beth Gill's post from yesterday. She really said everything I feel about the current political situation.

Basically, health-care reform is pretty much dead, and all that's walking around now is its zombies.

"I am wondering if now we're really off health care and on to political survival. In the last couple of months, the advocates of this plan broke cardinal rule of negotiation #2. (They broke cardinal rule #1 up front when they began negotiations with their base minimum acceptable position.) Cardinal rule #2 is: never fall so in love with the deal so much that you cannot walk away from it. The public option supporters got so invested in it that they either failed to notice or at the very least failed to speak up as their baby lost all the attributes that made it potentially cost saving, a viable alternative to expensive private plans and perhaps a good temporary compromise solution. Now that it's about as far from the original idea as it can get and survive, its advocates might just have to stick with it or go down in a serious defeat, taking many Democrats along with them...."
In a way, I almost wish that McCain and Palin had won. At least then I wouldn't be feeling betrayed, and their administration would have been pretty funny to watch. And you know they say that laughter is the best medicine....

That's a little sick humor for you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hell no, we won't hush!


From Laura Flanders:
"With popular fury at the status quo rising and hunger for a real, public option attracting over 70 percent approval in polls, the White House is urging public-option advocates to hush.

"According to the Washington Post, in a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama asked health care advocates to ratchet back their pressure for a public option. He's apparently concerned about advertisements and on-line campaigns targeting foot-dragging Democrats....

"When Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sat down with health-care lobbyists on June 10, two were his former chiefs of staff. Their aim: to minimize the "damage" in profits to insurers, hospitals and drug makers from any change in approach from government. Specifically, they oppose any even remotely public option, the details of which are right now up for debate."

Mr. President, you ought to be leading the charge, not telling people to hush! The Democratic Party is in the best position it can possibly be in to bring about meaningful health-care reform and it looks like you're going to blow it, for no better reasons than fear of offending Republicans and cutting into the profits of health insurers.

What is wrong with you?

Now we hear that lawmakers aren't going put together a health-reform bill before the August recess:
The administration's Democratic partners in Congress hinted they would not deliver legislation before leaving town for an August recess. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Obama should be pleased with lawmakers' progress; Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said "there really is plenty of time."
Plenty of time? Some 22,000 Americans, more than 60 per day, die just because they have no health coverage! Millions remain in pain or become lamed for life. And Congress wants to go on vacation?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Better fairgrounds treatment than no treatment

In this video, former health insurance industry executive Wendell Potter, who left the field after almost 20 years to become a health reform advocate, talks to Bill Moyers about what caused him to leave his highly paid job.

My first thought, hearing him describe the "health care exposition" he went to, in which uninsured people lined up to be treated in animal stalls, was to wish such events happened in Chicago.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chicago doctor walks 700 miles for health care reform

Dr. Ogan Gurel
To highlight the hardships that plague the uninsured, Chicago docter Ogan Gurel is taking their stories to Washington, D.C. — on foot.

Gurel is adjunct associate professor of bioengineering/bioinformatics at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and chairman of Aesis Group, a medical consulting firm. As a self-employed consultant, the doctor, like nearly 50 million other Americans, lacks health insurance. Inspired by the 167-mile walk around Illinois that Pat Quinn (now governor of Illinois) and Physicians for a National Health Program founder Dr. Quentin Young took in August 2001 to promote health care for everyone, Gurel is on a one-man march to the nation's capital.

On Saturday, June 27, he left from Daley Plaza on a nearly 700-mile hike. He expects to arrive in Washington on July 27. En route, he plans to meet people and share their health-care stories through his blog, Facebook and Twitter.

In his walk, which Gurel says is nonpolitical, he isn't advocating any particular reform policy, he says. That's a pity, because it makes his walk less meaningful. It's clear that some kind of health-care reform will happen. Yet unless we have, at a minimum, a strong public option, it will fall far short of health care for all.

Walk for Healthcare FAQs