Health Justice Act Before Fall Veto Session

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Universal Health Care process is before
the Illinois Senate this fall. A coalition based
in CU is a major activist group agitating for
its passage.
The Health Care Justice Act of 2003 initiates
a process to achieve universal health
care. It is not one specific plan to achieve
universal health care. It requires the creation
of a Bi-partisan Health Care Reform
Commission by September 1, 2003 to oversee
the gathering of public input and recommendations
for a universal access heath
care plan. The Commission and its operations
will operate under the Illinois
Department of Public Health. This Commission
will hold two sets of 10 public
hearings around the state seeking public
input on the development of the Health
Care Justice Act of 2003. Health care
providers, health care consumers and others
will assist in developing and proposing
several different plans ranging from singlepayer
plan to other ideas for Illinois to
The Public Health Department will task
the commission and a final report will be
presented to the Governor and General
Assembly in early 2005. This report will be
based upon the public meetings and
research and will include a comparative
analysis of the different proposals submitted
by interested parties to achieve universal
health care coverage. The bill provides
for further public discussion during the
spring through fall of 2005 with the Commission
presenting the options to the General
Assembly which is obliged to then pass
affordable and accessible health care for
The Health Care Justice Act of 2003 HB
2268 passed the House Health Committee
on March 11th with bipartisan support and
passed the full House (60 Yes, 45 No, 11
Present, 2 Present) . THe Health Care Justice
Act passed out of the Senate Health
Care Committee, but was stopped by the
insurance industry from having a full Senate
vote.When the House bill passed, it was
assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee
instead of the Health Care Committee
where it passed on April
29th. It stalled in the regular
session but the deadline for
Senate approval has been
extended until the end of this
year, which allows for it to be
passed during one of the two
short Fall Veto sessions.
These are November 4th to
6th and 18th to 20th. It is
extremely important that
State Senators be contacted regarding the
importance of this bill in this time period.
Should it have passed in the first days of the
month, calls should be made to the governor
for his quick signature and attention be
focused on how the process will be continued
and implemented.
Our health care system is decomposing
at an accelerated rate. The central office of
the Campaign for Better health Care is in
Champaign, and there are also offices in
Chicago. CBHC is Illinois’ largest grassroots
health care coalition, representing
321 diverse organizations. Every component
of the health care system is in cardiac
arrest. A total meltdown will occur if President
Bush succeeds in forcing our parents
and people with disabilities into private
managed care plans in order to be able to
access prescription drugs. Bush’s backdoor
approach to block grants to the Medicaid
program will cause havoc for millions of
Illinoisans and bankrupt the state.
Health care costs are soaring at double digit
rates and it is projected that similar levels of
increases will continue for the rest of this
decade. In 2001 the United States spent
$1,424,000,000,000 on health
care, an increase of
$114,000,000,000 from 2000.
Conservative estimates for
2003 predict that our country
will spend $1,750,000,000,000.
This figure will represent per
capita spending of nearly
$5,500 per person. Of countries
with a universal health
care system, even those with
the highest expenditures are still only spending
$3,000 per person. And yet 45 million Americans
are uninsured and another 75 million are
Here in Illinois the health care crisis has
reached epidemic levels. As the economic
recession continues, more Illinoisans are
unemployed, thus becoming uninsured. For
many low income workers Medicaid is the
only answer. For others it is the emergency
room. This spring, CBHC released the most
extensive study ever in Illinois detailing the
number of uninsured. This report revealed
that 3.1 million Illinoisans were uninsured
at any given moment in 2001. The Health
Care Justice Act of 2003 commits the state
of Illinois to enact universal health care by
June of 2006. This proposal will force this
debate back on the political agenda.
Of those politicians, organizations and
policy makers who do support universal
health care, there is no agreement on what
approach should be taken. Those in support
must be more committed than was the case
in the early 1990s to move this fight forward.
This proposal is strategically designed, first,
to win the public and political battle to
make a commitment to implement universal
health care. Once we achieve this major
political hurdle (which will not be easy), we
can move to stage two: determining what
solution will work best. The first hurdle will
be a political battle that will be just as tough
as winning the type of health care system,
which would be fair and equitable.We must
win this debate first. If we do not take this
two-step approach, the forces opposing us
will succeed in implementing piecemeal
reforms and expand the stranglehold of the
medical industrial complex.
For more information about the Health
Care Justice Act please access CBHC’s website
at, the Illinois
General Assembly’s web-site or call CBHC.
Call State Senator Winkel and tell him it is
time that he stands up for consumers and
businesses. The health care crisis is causing
havoc for employers and employees. Passage
of the Health Care Justice Act would
be the biggest economic stimulus plan for
our state. In addition to calling Winkel, call
Senator Obama and tell him that you are
behind his effort to call this bill during the
Fall Veto session and getting it passed out
of the Democratically controlled Senate.
The time is now, not next year.

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