Strength, Strategy and Donna Smith

April 15, 2010

The fight continues in earnest for health care for all.

Activists from across the whole bleeding state of Illinois, including representatives from
PDA, CNA, Chi-SPAN, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and other members of the Illinois Single Payer Coalition gathered at Augustana Church in President Obama’s old Hyde Park neighborhood to talk about health care.
The consensus was:

We ain’t done yet!

We can do better and we can do more.

Specifically, to keep pushing hard for a single payer plan, like Medicare, improved and expanded to everyone. That’s the path to true health care parity. There is a heapin’ helping of piece of mind down that road and more and more Americans are taking up the fight to take the profit motive out of health care access.

We met a roomful of quality leaders and fighters that are more than up for the task.

Here are some snappy highlights with some big name cameo appearances, including Doc Young who recently wrote so eloquently at HuffPo

“Single-payer Medicare for All is the reform that’s required. Just like almost all other major areas of progress in American life, fundamental health reform requires a movement based on equity, justice, prudence and
science that is free of market greed. That movement today is single payer.”


Here is a great conversation with PDA Illinois Chair-Maestro Bill Bianchi and buddy Donna Smith that inspires great hope for the future of the single payer movement and shows the strength and insight of two friends from Chicago fighting for all of us.

Boy, did IMPs miss ya!

Now meet all the member organizations that made this meeting a success.

Rah indeed!

Access Living

Downstate Democrats for Change

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)

National Nurses Organizing Commitee(NNOC)

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

OWL-National Older Women’s League

Progressive Democrats of America Illinois Chapter(PDA)

Chicago Single Payer Action Network

Health Care for All Illinois

Gray Panthers

AFSCME: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

APJ: Aurora Peace and Justice

APU: American Patients United

CAEC: Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

CCHCC: Champaign County Health Care Consumers

ChiSPAN: Chicago Single-Payer Action

DP: Democratic Party

FVCPJ: Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice

HC-N: Healthcare-Now

IMM: Illinois Media Progressives (Hi!)

IGP: Illinois Green Party

ISPC: Illinois Single-Payer Coalition

JASC: Jane Addams Senior Caucus

LC: Longhouse Coalition

NAARPO: National Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression

NNOC/CAN/NNU: National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association/National Nurses Union

PDA: Progressive Democrats of America

SADA: Springfield Area Disability Activists

Ain’t it grand to have so many friends!


Zen Master Larry

December 22, 2009

From Donna Smith:
“Larry says it feels a little like healthcare reform.”

“The path looks promising at first (maybe the mail came) but then it leads to nothing but retreat and defeat.
This is what our ice and snow look like in Maryland this morning.
Larry wanted me to share his thoughts and his photo.”

IMPs remembers before the snow fell, when no one dared even speak the words “single payer” much less on the Senate floor; when no one in Washington could even imagine protesting physicians, nurses and activists arrested at the Capitol and a Senator calling for more police, and when the American public still believed its elected officials represented their interests before those of corporations.

We’ve all learned quite a bit this year.

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Because Nothing’s Scarier than a Pediatrician

October 30, 2009

Yesterday Dr. Margaret Flowers was arrested, yet again for trying to have a conversation about single payer.
She was part of a Mobilization for Health Care for All sit-in at a Baltimore CareFirst health insurance office and was arrested with 4 others, one of whom, Charles Loubert, is 81 years old. She and Charles were planning to stay in the hoosegow until the CEO of CareFirst, Chet Burrell, agreed to a public meeting with her.

Here are Margaret’s own words on risking arrest for single payer:

In short, I am going to be arrested again because I believe that it is my professional responsibility to advocate on behalf of those who can’t and because it is clear that the other traditional advocacy tools are not working. The phrase that runs continuously through my mind is “To be silent is to be complicit.” I cannot be complicit in the face of an industry that profits at the cost of human lives and in the face of an administration and Congress that are too dysfunctional to stop this practice.

Apparently, this mother of three is pretty scary, because despite Margaret and Charles’ efforts, the authorities got spooked and would not keep this pediatrician in the pokey. In fact, they wanted rid of her.
In a message from Margaret:

Margaret Flowers is home because Central Booking in Baltimore would not send me to jail. Our presence caused quite a stir – not the usual arrestee – and they weren’t sure what to do with us. A long day but we are all well and ready to continue!”


As you may know, Dr. Margaret first felt the zip-ties around her wrists in Washington D.C. as part of the Baucus 8, a group of doctors and advocates who stood up in Sen. Max Baucus’ Senate finance hearing on health care, with a simple question: Why are there seats for the insurance industry but not a single seat for single payer?

One by one the activists stood up from their seats-in the audience, and asked the question. No answer was given. The gavel was rapped repeatedly for order.
Dr. Margaret Flowers stood up. She wanted to talk about single payer as a solution. She wanted to talk about why she can’t care for her patients because of corporate bureaucracy.
But she was promptly escorted out of the room, put into a paddy wagon and charged with disorderly conduct for disrupting a Congressional hearing.
Max didn’t want to talk.
Soon Sen. Baucus found he could not continue the hearing with the interruptions from the crowd and asked for “more police.”
Donna Smith wrote about what she saw that day, eloquently and from the heart as usual.

This day the doctors of the Baucus 8 acted as they always have and always do – they acted in the best interests of the patient. Even though they were facing legal consequences for protesting the lack of a single payer voice in Congress and even though they had their own concerns, they quite literally dropped everything and acted on our behalf.
For me, this evidence of professional integrity and commitment spoke even more loudly to their message about healthcare reform. For Senator Baucus, this is a political process which will feather his cap and pad his coffers ever so comfortably if he keeps the for-profit interests protected and enhanced through this health reform legislative process. His health and his standing in life are safe and secure in ways most of us can only imagine – yet he would deny that health security to all Americans.

This “political process” to which Sen. Baucus subscribes, allows 45,000 Americans to die each year.

Reality is simply more terrifying.
Happy Halloween.

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Chicago “Cigna 7”: Arrest This

October 8, 2009

Seven members of various Chicago single payer groups put their butts on the line this morning by placing them firmly on the floor of the Chicago Cigna headquarters lobby, and refused to remove them until the Chicago police did it for them.

Apparently word hadn’t reached them that Senator Max had taken single payer off the table, or more likely it had, and they don’t rightfully give a good goddam what Max says.
Or anyone that insists for-profit health care financing is anything but a moral, ethical and fiscal abomination.

Representing the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, the Chicago Single Payer Action Network, Progressive Democrats of America and Physicians for a National Health Care Program, the Cigna 7 were taken into custody by the Chicago police late this morning.

Here’s what it looked like:

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Politics made from scratch, not with…

September 30, 2009

But that won’t deter activists like these.
Kudos to those arrested today. And the Baucus 813 before them.
You are proof that we are stronger than a majority of those who represent us.
You took them to school.

Washington is not strong enough to compete with doctors like these.
Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, Studs Terkel’s doctor and lifelong fighter for social justice had some wonderfully scratchy words to wear out Sen Max Baucus’ hide in his introduction to the Mad as Hell Doctors on Saturday at the UIC College of Pharmacy.
Doctor Young just celebrated his 86th birthday btw.

And Dr. Paul Hochfeld, an emergency physician and head Mad as Hell Doctor is on his way to Washington D.C. with a message for President Obama:
Please admit it, you are not strong enough to fight these interests.
At least not without us.

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Chicago’s Congress Crashing Weekend with the Mad as Hell Doctors

September 29, 2009

Chicago got them for a whole weekend!
First stop-SK Tools picket line and then a jam packed reception at Joey’s Brickhouse with the Progressive Democrats of America.

These Mad as Hell Docs are barreling down on D.C. with the momentum of thousands of supporters who have heard the doctor’s message loud and clear: Single payer now!
State by state, hundreds of people have gathered to share their stories with the doctors and joined the movement in spirit and sedans.

Here are some highlights from Joey’s…More to come on this Congress Crashing Eve!
Roll on Docs!

All the best!

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SK Tool workers get some Mad as Hell Doc support

September 27, 2009

Heard the story?
SK Tool workers in Chicago lost their health insurance with absolutely no word of warning.
On Friday Sept 25th, the Mad as Hell Docs barreled into Chicago making their first stop…On the picket line of SK Tools.
Here’s Doc Paul Hochfeld and some shots we got from the front lines.

More to come.

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