A healthcare reform bill will pass this year and it will include a "public option" government-run insurance plan, according to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaking at a Democratic Party event in Chicago on Saturday afternoon.
Schakowsky, a six-term incumbent representing Illiniois' 9th Congressional district, promised that by the end of the year there will be a piece of legislation that not only ensures that healthcare is a right, it will also "provide it to each and every American."
"I am absolutely convinced--and this is not just wishful thinking on my part," Schakowsky said, noting that her opinion is based on polls and Senate and House conversations. "When we pass that bill, it will include a public option." Schakowky cited statistics about how most local health plan markets are "non-competitive," and said she doubted that insurance companies believe their own rhetoric about "the glories of the free market."
"That is the last thing the insurance companies want," she said. "We are going to win on public option!" Schakowski is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as a member of the House Democrats' Steering and Policy Committee and serves as its "chief deputy whip." Her remarks drew loud applause from the couple hundred people who were packed shoulder-to-shoulder at the Holiday Club, a Rat Pack-themed bar located north of Wrigley Field. The walls were filled with pictures of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and other '60s era celebrities, and there was one lone protester on the outside looking in. He held a piece of paper with a note about politicians spending money written on it up against the glass.
Sponsored by the city's 46th Ward Democratic organization, several tables were set up with candidates for various offices seeking signatures for their nominating petitions. Among the politicians who spoke was Gov. Pat Quinn who noted that Illinois National Guardsmen serving in Afghanistan recently helped register 165,000 new voters in that country, and he remarked that "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Calling Schakowsky "a strong voice for healthcare reform," Quinn told the crowd that the political struggle for healthcare reform is the "battle of our lifetime" and said how unexpected healthcare costs was the number one cause of bankruptcies in Illinois.
Quinn was serving as lieutenant governor and was elevated to the state's chief executive post when Rod Blagojevich was removed from office. He is a long-time healthcare advocate and in 2001 Quinn walked across Illinois with his personal physician--Physicians for a National Health Program National Coordinator Quentin Young--to drum up support for universal healthcare coverage in the state. "Everybody should be covered," Quinn said. "That is not an option."