Chicago rally for single payer

August 13, 2008

CHICAGO--A rally for single-payer, guaranteed health care for all was held outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) office on August 2. Chicago Single Payer Action Network (CSPAN) organized the action, which was cosponsored by the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), Illinois Single Payer Coalition (ISPC) and Physicians for a National Health Program (PHNP).

Because the Democrats are campaigning on the idea of change during this election, activists were there to tell them that the people want single-payer, guaranteed health care for all. The rally on Chicago's downtown Michigan Avenue was held in solidarity with activists around the country holding actions to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the passage of Medicare, the federally funded health care program which covers those over 65 and some of the disabled population.

The DNC office is located at a corner that was busy with shoppers, tourists and people attending the nearby music festival Lollapalooza. Activists passed out hundreds of flyers to passersby that compared single-payer health care, which would guarantee every person in the country every medical necessity for less money than we currently spend on health care, to Democratic nominee Barack Obama's multipayer plan, which would only guarantee the health insurance companies more profits and leave millions of people uninsured and underinsured.

People stopped to ask questions about single-payer, share their concerns about health care issues and listen to speakers. A group of Canadians in Chicago for Lollapolooza stopped to listen, and one of them took the megaphone to explain how things like medical bankruptcies and daylong waits in clinics do not occur there due to the single-payer system Canada has adopted.

Other speakers included social worker Helen Redmond of CSPAN and physician Anne Scheetz of PNHP, who spoke about seriously ill patients who couldn't get the care they desperately needed due to the inadequate, unjust health care system currently in place in the U.S.

Rally participants marched, shouting slogans like "Insurance companies deny; people die!" and waved signs asking the Democrats to support national single-payer bill HR 676 and state single-payer bill HB 311. Toward the end of the rally, over 200 people protesting the possibility of war with Iran marched to the DNC office. A protester spoke to the crowd about the connection between the fight for a better health care system and ending spending for war.

This past year, Chicago has seen single-payer rallies and protests of the for-profit health care system about every two months. CSPAN meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays in Chicago to educate, organize and help build the movement for single-payer, guaranteed health care for all.

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