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.

1 comment:

  1. Nick was amazing. I spent last Christmas with him when he and his girlfriend came up to my family's house in Spring Grove. We hadn't spoken in a year and a half, but we fell right back into our old ways. The foundation for Nick's current work was laid out years ago. He had a boundless energy for questioning authority, and never shied away from calling hypocrites out on their hypocrisy. He was excactly what the uninsured needed, and excactly what the Washington fat cats hate. Please continue your fight with renewed vigor, we all need to step up our game in his absence.


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