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With little (no) fanfare, this week single payer health care in Illinois took a giant leap forward.

In a week that included an appearance in Chicago by Rep. John Conyers speaking on HR 676, our national single payer bill, there was a contentious hearing in Springfield and dramatic movement forward on HB 311, Illinois' single payer bill.

HB 311:
On Tuesday of this week, April 15, IL Rep. Mary Flowers held a hearing on her bill HB 311, Illinois' single payer bill, in the Illinois House Health Care Availability and Access Committee.
That day ten Illinois Representatives signed on as co-sponsors, (including Harry Osterman, my critter).

Prior to the hearing, on April 10, fourteen Illinois Representatives signed on as new co-sponsors (although two later removed their names) and on Monday, April 14, both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie added their names as chief co-sponsors.

Add two more on Wednesday for a present total of 28.

Rep. Flowers, a tireless advocate for single payer, expressed her thanks when asked about the week's events:

I couldn't have done it without everyone (who supports single payer) because they believed in it all along, especially when it wasn't popular.

Thank you, Rep. Flowers. She stated she will be scheduling hearings on her bill throughout the state.

Dr. Quentin Young of the PNHP,was excited with the development:

We want to celebrate this as a giant step forward.
We're pleased with the representatives who have chosen to be sponsors of the bill.
We're going to work very hard to make the people of Illinois recognize this great opportunity, and to secure the support of the senate and the governor's signature on a bill that would make Illinois the first single payer state in the nation.

There has been some speculation on some local blogs regarding the timing of this activity, but you’ll have to google it yourselves-
I’ll leave that to those with the time for speculation.
Especially in Springfield where it appears that you can't buy a donut without starting a rumor war.
But if other potential health care plans for Illinois involve mandates, I say do whatever it takes for single payer.

And I’m inclined to think the best anyway, because any politician who would dare to dabble
with using single payer health care as a political tool
grossly underestimates the intelligence, commitment and tenacity of single payer supporters.

You can ask the California governor about that.

Nicholas Skala, also of PNHP, testified at the Springfield hearing.
His assessment as to why HB 311 came up in committee now:

...there was nothing to it besides the timing of everyone involved. I was working full-time on this when it was introduced, and now I'm in law school, so my time is limited. Rep. Flowers, Quentin (Dr. Young) and I had been going back and forth over possible hearing dates all summer, made at least one, and then cancelled it. This was simply the earliest time that it worked out for everybody.

When it was clear it was being called up in committee, there was obviously interest in it, and we got maybe 15 new sponsors in the preceding days.

As to the Springfield hearing itself, Mr. Skala states:

The hearing itself was eventful. There were about a dozen groups down there in support of the bill, and maybe 7 witnesses. At the opening, the room was packed with lobbyists, but as the "yea" votes came floating in and it became clear the bill was going to pass, they left without bothering to testify...I was the third witness, and sort of the designated question-answerer/beat-up-on-guy for the Republicans.

By all reports, Mr. Skala’s performance in front of the committee was stellar and HB 311 was approved by committee on an 8-4 vote.

Please take the time to contact your Illinois Representative.
Find out who they are here.
Find their phone/emails here.
Please show your support if they have signed on to HB 311, and encourage them to do so if they haven’t.

And there is presently no single payer bill in the Illinois Senate, so please let your Senator know as well that you support a single payer solution in Illinois.

PDA, the Progressive Democrats of America, also has an action page here. They'll be happy to look up your Rep for you.

And if you're a single payer supporter who doesn’t have the privilege of living in the earthquake country of Illinois, feel free to contact the Democratic leadership in Illinois and let them know the rest of the country is watching and wants to see Illinois lead on single payer health care.

House Speaker Michael Madigan
Senate President Emil Jones, Jr.
Governor Rod Blagojevich

Yes this is just a step in the process, but it is a very significant one.
And it comes on the heels of Rep. John Conyers visit to Chicago last Friday the 11th.

HR 676:
Rep. Conyers, sponsor of our national single payer health care bill, HR 676, spoke at the invitation of Northwestern University’s law and medical communities. The event was open to the public and the venue had to be changed to accommodate everyone who responded. Both Dr. Young and Mr. Skala also spoke.

Mr. Skala opened the evening with a comprehensive power point presentation on single payer, and highlighted the horror of personal bankruptcies due to medical bills, in light of the 75% who had health insurance.

Dr. Young spoke of health care history in this country, and cited the recent Annals of Internal Medicine survey which states 59% of physicians now support single payer, a change of seismic proportions.

And then the inimitable Rep. Conyers:

"I always like the members who get up and plead for something
and they want to get it for the kids.
I want to get 676 for me."

Rep. Conyers likened the political evolution of HR 676 to the years it took to pass the Martin Luther King holiday, but reiterated his commitment  to its passage.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who shares a long and compelling history with both  Rep. Conyers and Dr. Young, also showed up unexpectedly and briefly addressed the crowd. He chose to refer to single payer as a crusade rather than a campaign, and looked for ways to include more people in the single payer fight, especially those most affected by our broken health care system.  

Quite a week in Illinois for single payer health care.

As Rep Conyers stated last Friday,
"The immorality of the way this health system works is so profound ...that you're either with us on this or you’re against us."

Rep. Flowers and Studs Terkel last summer during a Michael Moore appearance
IL Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and Dr. Quentin Young

Rev. Jackson

Originally posted to Ozzie on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 05:01 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Blago is too divisive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We'll get national single payer health care next year. We need a capital bill before we talk about massive expansion of state programs that will only matter for a year. Let's get people back to work first with a capital bill.

      Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

      by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 05:44:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish I had your crystal ball (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, CatJab

        at least for the "national single payer health care next year" part.

        How you figger?

      •  I say "no fate but what we make"... (0+ / 0-)

        Next year? It's all part of the same fabric. Healthcare, infrastructure, tax law...our primary question is do we support a civil society? Progressives have been losing ground by piecemeal advocacy for decades.. The Dems chose to fight Bushco. in 2001 issue by issue - when Bush was launching an all-out assault on EVERY element of federal governance.

        Start changing political "reality" by making our insistence on this issue from the Dems a hardened boundary. It's not a zero-sum game. A tax code comes out of what the collective will allows - in our case, maintainence for both concrete and flesh-and-blood infrastructure.

  •  Wow (8+ / 0-)

    Illinois the 1st Single-Payer state, wouldn't that be amazing?

    •  Of course it would (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, Ozzie

      but our infrastructure is crumbling. I know firsthand, and we cannot afford this without the graduated income tax constitutional amendment. Let's pass that first, and then show the nation how it's done. I'm totally for single-payer, but we have an urgent need to maintain our infrastructure before it crumbles. It's like not changing your oil for 50k miles. It costs you so much more down the road. Graduated income tax then single payer, but before both, let's stop our state from falling apart.

      Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

      by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 05:51:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you, but try changing "infrastrcture" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Downtowner, CatJab

        to "health care system" in your comment.

        Both reads are rather compelling, no?

        •  Yes, I concede the point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's just that I don't see the problems with the uninsured everyday in my capacity, but I do see the problems with our infrastructure. I am admittedly biased, and you are right we do need both. Let's join forces to pass the graduated income tax.

          Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

          by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 06:31:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We should post on (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

            by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 06:32:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it surely starts with the "uninsured" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peace voter, CatJab

            but it surely is a much larger problem.

            The status quo is unsustainable and indefensible, considering things like infant mortality and life expectancy, bankruptcy and denial of coverage, percentage of gdp spent on hc, per capita spending, pharma and insurer lobbying, deceptive business practices...goodness I could go on.

            It's certainly not about getting these people "insured" with some basic coverage when people with better plans can't get satisfaction.

            If you, or loved ones, or close friends, co-workers, or anyone you've ever known have all avoided eating shit because of this system, you travels have been extremely blessed.

            How does this issue not impact you?

            That being said, I do want to hear about some of your Illinois' infra. priorities.

            •  Infrastructure priorities (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              We could start by getting funding for the so called "emergency repair" of the Barkhausen Levy, which was badly damaged a couple of years ago, and has yet to go beyond the design phase. Bridges, I won't get into specifics, but we are losing out on federal matching funds by not contributing our own, and work needs to be done soon. Either we share the cost with the feds or bear it all on our own. Furthermore, after Minneapolis, we should fully fund all of the IDOT's recommendations for bridge replacements and/or rehabs regardless of how minor, roof repairs 10 years overdo over occupied office space, waste treatment facilities in danger of being cited by EPA, railroad bridges still controlled by the state under prior agreements with the Army Corps of Engineers, dam stabilizations and removal of run-of-the-river dams in certain locations due to safety concerns, replacement of high voltage underground power mains in danger of eminent failure (the cause of the current shutdown of the State Fairgrounds), and replacement of electrical load centers at parks across the state. This all without addressing any of the highway construction whatsoever. It's a problem, and if you knew the condition of many state facilities, of which there are tens of thousands total, you would understand. They can no longer survive by placing band aides on the problems. I know that was long winded, but I cannot help it.

              Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

              by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 07:47:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I'm all for (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Ozzie, CatJab, BetMyCitizenship

        improving our infrastructure.  In fact, as an urban planner, I've been intricately and immediately involved in infrastructure improvement projects in Illinois - including ones involving little things like bridges that were rebuilt decades after their reliable life span.

        But I would be willing to place a bet that:

        a.) more Illinoisans will die of being underinsured or uninsured next year than will die as a result of crumbling infrastructure, and

        b.) more money will be spent on public improvement than public health projects in Illinois next year.

        So, no, I can't agree that infrastructure is "the" priority - it's "a" priority, but not one I'm willing to put before healthcare.

      •  Something that would also help... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is to stop paying about 30 cents for every healthcare dollar on just administrative paperwork...
        save us...oh...billions a year alone.

        •  ..and there's the rub.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That is billions that SOMEONE would no longer get... collectively, a "someone" whose lobbyists are garrisoned all over our state and federal legislative halls, and imbedded into the political landscape like an occupying army.

          Ultimately no match for a real insurgency, but I'm sure there are thousands of people out there who would view the single payer proposal as "grand theft" of THEIR hard-fought political and professional investments. The fight will not be pretty.

  •  John Conyers wants Single Payer for himself... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, Ozzie, Potus2020, valsagem, ArtfromMI

    Not for my children or grandchildren..but for ME!
    Here's a man who hung out with MLK and saw Watergate go down!
    (good GOD let's hurry!!!)
    This smacks of a pretty positive step toward getting Mr. Conyers and the rest of us Single Payer now!

  •  I live in Illinois, (7+ / 0-)

    and have no insureance this is great news. PDA is signed and sent.

  •  For Those Of Us .... (7+ / 0-)

    who have been advocating Single Payer , not knowing how to make a difference , this is nothing short of a miracle . PNHP has long been fighting for this also .
    Single-Payer FAQ | Physicians for a National Health Program

    Provides that it is unlawful for private health insurers to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the coverage of the Program .

    This is heavy stuff .

    Unlawful for investor - ownership of health delivery facilities .

    Like many of us Conyers believes the advent of
    single Payer as inevitable . I just had a gut feeling that it could only happen starting at the grass roots level . I hope to see a campaign in Michigan soon . This is just too great .

  •  I hope you're right (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, peace voter, Ozzie, Downtowner, CatJab

    The nation needs single-payer, but I doubt this will get done next year on a national level - too many billions involved for ins. cos. If states can chip away, I say let them have at it.

    I finally got around to watching frontline's "sick around the world" this morning, and it made me sick (again) at how our economic darwinism crushes those who are ill and can't afford to be.

    •  Watched "sick around the world" too (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, Ozzie, mediaprof, CatJab

      It is sad that the one thing that all the countries  had in common(no for-profit insurance companies) is the one thing the presidential hopefuls refuse to even discuss as an option.  It makes me sick still.

      If anyone hasn't seen it yet it is definitely worth your time, unlike a certain debate I could mention.
      "Sick around the world" at

    •  It can't be advocated in primaries or GE (0+ / 0-)

      But it's where our Dem candidates truly stand, and I can tell you that with a motivated netroots contacting reps and senators, it will go through. That's why I want Barack, because he can push his agenda with his fervent supporters. Nearly every other modern nation in the world has socialized medicine. We will too. Do not worry. It's as thick in the air as change.

      Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? - Patrick Henry

      by BetMyCitizenship on Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 06:47:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guess I'm just skeptical (0+ / 0-)

        from spending all day reading about the economic woes of our country. In an earlier post on DKos, they linked to an ABC story about Paulson making several Billion dollars last year as a hedge fund manager. Go read the comments to get an idea of what we're up against in the push for single-payer health care.

        Which mystifies me why Krugman discounts the Kansas theory. Lots of people are willing to slit their own throats in the hopes of winning the lottery.

      •  Of course we're talking about Democrats... (0+ / 0-)

        and god forbid they ever advocate what they truly stand for...the party that's about to give Bushco. all the $$$ he wants for the continuing crime spree that is our foreign policy in Iraq - and give it ALL soon, so they don't have to reveal themselves when they campaign in the Fall with more their capitulating, enabling votes.

        And what is Barack's agenda? Same as most in both parties - not to upset Wall St.

        I am going to make this an ultimatimum to the latest enabling Dem from the IL-14th this November. If he declares that he is against single payer, I am voting for the Repub. It has to start being that stark.

        If we're asking them to get serious on health care, we should be as serious as a heart attack with our votes..

  •  This is great news,,, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, Ozzie, Downtowner, CatJab

    and hopefully Illinois or California  (SB840) will get a single-payer bill past. I'd like California to be the first, but in the long run it doesn't matter as long as at least one state implements single-payer.

    As I've said repeatedly, in order to make single-payer happen in the U.S. it has to start with at least one state passing a single-payer bill that will open up the flood gates and we will have single-payer in nation wide.

    Don't wait for California or Illinois though! You folks in other states need to lobby your state representatives to introduce their own single-payer legislation.

  •  Sometimes the resonance of an issue ... (0+ / 0-)

    ...overwhelms whatever political agenda or maneouvering washes it up onto a committee's table.
    I could imagine all sorts of reasons that Speaker Madigan would sponsor this bill: head off Blago's agenda, freak out some industry types with an "things could get worse if I let them" gesture, set up the appearance of a huge legislative concession later on.. and it would all be just imagination.

    But sometimes a politician picks up what he/she thinks is a inert, blunt intrument and finds it begins to shake in their hands..and they've got a sorcerer's apprentice scenerio cascading before them.

    I'll be bringing this up to my state Rep. in a planned meeting next week. Keep shaking the earth..

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