Health Care

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Oct 30

Single-Payer Health Care Advocates Rally In Chicago Against Health Insurance Industry (VIDEO)

Chanting, "Patients, not profits," a few hundred single-payer health care advocates took aim at the health insurance industry late Friday afternoon with a rally outside the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower in downtown Chicago.

The protest came on the first day of the national Single-Payer Strategy Conference taking place in Chicago this weekend. Healthcare-NOW!, Labor Campaign for Single Payer and One Payer States is organizing the conference, which is said to be the biggest gathering of the advocates from across the country in support of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all type health care system.

Representatives from the Physicians for a National Health Program, which is also holding its annual conference in Chicago this weekend, were also at Friday's rally. The advocates carried signs reading, "Health care for all now!"

"We must come together to advocate for a health care system that is fair and just for all Americans, not just a few who can afford it," Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, told the crowd outside the Blue Cross Blue Shield building, 300 E. Randolph St.

Quick Hit
by Letter To The Editor
Wed Oct 7

Letter To The Editor: The Budget Impasse Is Devastating Public Health Services In Illinois

The following was written by Miriam Link-Mullison, administrator of the Jackson County Health Department in Murphysboro, Illinois.

Dear Editor:

The State of Illinois' budget impasse is eroding the capacity of local health departments to protect the health of its citizens.  Local health departments are taking appropriate - yet drastic - action in response to this crisis: they are laying-off staff, reducing the work week, and reducing the hours that they're open for business.  Rural health departments are particularly hard hit because their populations are older, incomes are lower, property values are less, and there are fewer local tax revenues for the health department, cash reserves are smaller and the demand for public health services is greater.  Sixteen of Illinois' 97 local health departments, serving nearly a million people, have already reduced staff, hours, and services.  More health departments will be forced to take similar action if no state funding is received for the services that have been delivered but not paid for since July 1.  It is only a matter of time until there is a disease outbreak that leaves many people sick and may even cost some their lives - an outbreak of a disease that could have been prevented by public health.

In Illinois, front-line public health services are provided by local health departments.  They are units of local government.  They are supported by local tax revenues, fees, and grants from the state and federal governments.  There are 97 of them; they serve 100 of Illinois' 102 counties and more than 99 percent of the state's population.