Sarcastically describing them as brilliant, Physicians for a National Health Program National Coordinator Quentin Young warned that the legislative proposals currently being considered to improve access to healthcare are a catastrophe in the making and would rival the collapse of the financial markets.
Speaking at an outdoor rally today in downtown Chicagos Federal Plaza, Young advocated for a publicly funded, privately operated Medicare-for-all health system, and he mocked proposals to mandate that everyone buy private insurance or face a fine.
The rally was timed to coincide with the White House forum on healthcare reform taking place in Los Angeles and was co-sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. Young noted that single-payer advocates were denied a seat at the table at todays forum and thatin Los Angelesthousands were protesting outside because they could not get inside.
Another source, however, estimated a smaller crowd. A news release issued by the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare, a coalition that includes both the PNHP and CNA, noted that hundreds had gathered around a giant table representing how single-payer advocates had been shut out of the forum.
The Chicago rally was attended by about 30 people, and the California Nurses Association was represented by Frank Borgers, who told how the Los Angeles forum was being hosted by our friendnot so muchGov. Schwarzenegger. Borgers also mocked proposals mandating the purchase of private insurance as foolhardy and doomed.
The nation cannot afford to subsidize private health insurance, Borgers said.
Young described the current political climate as a good-news/bad-news proposition, explaining that public support for a single-payer system has never been stronger, but that insurance companies have been working harder than ever to maintain their control. They have not been asleep at the wheel, he said.
Young also noted the bitter realities facing the city of Chicagos healthcare system, including how the 553-bed University of Chicago Medical Center was working to redirect a significant number of its emergency department visitors to other facilities and how the 364-bed Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Centerwhose staff he joined in 1952is closing down.
University of Chicago Medical Center spokesman John Easton defended his institutions program to reduce emergency room traffic and described it as an effort to find medical homes for patients who use the hospitals emergency department as their main source of primary care rather than for treatment of true medical emergencies.