PI Original Adam Doster Tuesday September 29th, 2009, 9:59am

Health Care Round-Up: Young People Demand Reform, Schakowsky Optimistic About Public Option, Public Opinion Swings In September

Here is the latest news from the health care reform battle -- both in D.C. and here in Illinois. Young People Demand Reform Republicans looking to downplay the health care crisis in America often portray the population of uninsured young people as a collection of ...

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Here is the latest news from the health care reform battle -- both in D.C. and here in Illinois.

Young People Demand Reform

Republicans looking to downplay the health care crisis in America often portray the population of uninsured young people as a collection of free riders: they can afford to purchase coverage but purportedly choose not to. Rep. Mark Kirk will probably repeat the argument at his latest town hall in Northbrook this morning. But that talking point isn't supported by the facts. Of the 13 million people (28 percent) in their twenties living without insurance, just 10 percent are college graduates and 5 percent have incomes above $60,000 a year. That's a major reason why young people are the age group most supportive of reform.

In latest "Real People Demand Health Reform" video, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and United Action for Power and Justice talk to three young people who aren't well-served by the current system. Watch it:

Schakowsky, Congressional Leaders Optimistic About Public Option

As headliners of an Organizing for America health care event in Chicago this past weekend, both Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Gov. Pat Quinn expressed their strong support for federal health care reform. Schakowsky even reiterated her belief that Congress will pass a bill that includes a government-run public option:

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky said Saturday that she thinks the final health care reform legislation will contain a public insurance option, despite strong opposition by Republican legislators.

"I think at the end of the day, the bill on the president's desk will have a public option," said Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who is the House's deputy majority whip.

Other Congressional liberals are optimistic, as well. On Thursday, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told reporters they were confident that health care reform will include a public option. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote today on the provision, one which Sen. Dick Durbin praised on WJBC radio yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might have something else in mind. An anonymous Senate aide told the New York Times over the weekend that Reid may keep a public option out of his chamber's merged bill, which could reach the Senate floor the week of October 12. (A Reid spokesperson denies the reporting.) We will know soon enough.

In the meantime, check out this video from Jim Duffett, the executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, in which he argues that applying additional pressure on lawmakers is the only way progressives can win the fight for the public option:

Public Opinion Swings In September

Are the passionate opponents of health care reform that stormed town halls this summer representative of the American people at large? It appears not, according to new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. A new September survey found that 57 percent of Americans "now believe that tackling health care reform is more important than ever," up four percent since last month. Large majorities of Americans continue support the individual reform provisions embedded within the Democratic bills on the Hill as well, including an individual mandate (68 percent), an employer mandate (67 percent) and an expansion of state programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (82 percent).

What does this tell us? While the lies and distortions propagated by Republicans this summer may have confused the standard voter about the intentions of the reform proposals being circulated in Washington, the central components of the Democrat's agenda remain quite popular.

Mad As Hell Doctors

A local health care fight is still raging, as well. In late August, employees of  SK Hand Tool Corp. in Chicago and McCook hit the picket line to protest their company's decision to cancel health insurance coverage for 70 employees after contract negotiations between the company and Teamsters Local 743 stalled. Since the strike began, the group has gained a number of influential supporters, including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who promised to investigate the problem when she rolled through town earlier this month.

Now we can add the Mad As Hell Doctors to the list. The single-payer advocacy group stopped by the factory and joined the line on its cross-country driving tour over the weekend. Watch a video the group produced documenting their visit:

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