Hundreds rally for health care reform

CHICAGO -- Health Care for America Now and Citizen Action Illinois held a rally in support of President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan on April 18, at St. Augustine College here.

William McNary, president of USAction and co-director of Citizen Action Illinois, presided.

Union members from UFCW, SEIU and USW as well as advocates from Chicago Single-Payer Action Network and others packed the hall.

HCAN representative Steve Titus said the organization’s principal demands are: comprehensive benefits, affordable coverage, equal access to health care and, most salient, the option of a private or public health insurance plan.

Some supporters of HR 676 (a single-payer health care bill) stood outside the hall in protest of the public option as an unacceptable compromise with private insurance companies.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and co-sponsor of HR-676 answered criticisms from single-payer advocates. She said the public option is not a compromise, but a strategic step toward the single-payer system and the elimination of the private insurance industry.

The private sector is united in opposing any legislation that would expand publicly funded health care over and against the virtual monopoly of insurance companies.

The public option is simply the opening salvo against the private sector, Schakowsky and other speakers said.

Both Schakowsky and McNary stressed the need for solidarity among health care reform activists, in order to build mass support and momentum toward the goal of a single-payer system.