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Dr. Willie Young, single-payer advocate
Young has a new gig.

Outliers: Single-payer advocate tackles new duties

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 24, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Dr. Quentin Young, a longtime advocate of a single-payer health system, found himself pulled into another type of political controversy in Illinois recently.

Young, the 89-year-old national coordinator of the Physicians for a National Health Program, was in the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn lobbying the Democrat about the use of federal maternal and child health block grants when he got drawn into a power struggle between the governor and another powerful Illinois Democrat, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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During their discussion, Quinn suddenly changed the subject, says Young, who—before his retirement in 2008—had been the governor's personal physician.

Quinn, who had been fighting with Emanuel over who should fill the vacant executive director position for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, out of the blue asked Young to serve on the authority's board of directors and replace a director whose term had expired in July. Young agreed to the impromptu appointment and cast the deciding vote in a 4-3 decision to hire Quinn's choice, a former deputy state budget director.

The authority board is the third post Quinn has appointed Young to. Young was Quinn's first choice in 2009 to chair what was formerly called the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, which oversees the state's certificate-of-need process. Young resigned after four days because he still owned a minority ownership share in his former practice and the practice was leasing space to Oak Brook, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care. A new rule prohibited anyone with a business interest in a hospital from serving on the board.

In January 2010, Quinn appointed Young to be the state's first public health advocate, a position that carried with it an annual salary of $1. The new position on the sports authority board “required me to resign my prior appointment,” Young says, adding (with a chuckle) “and I never got the goddamn dollar.”

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