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.