CHICAGO – Single payer activists organized by the Chicago Single Payer Action Network (ChiSPAN) held a rally here last week in front of the newly opened Democratic National Committee office on Michigan Avenue. Rally-goers demanded that the DNC put single-payer health care on its platform and to get behind Rep. John Conyers’ (D-Mich.) bill, HR 676, the US National Health Insurance Act.

The DNC Platform Committee met in Cleveland that day where other health care activists also gathered to to carry the same message to them.

In Chicago, rally-goers handed out leaflets to a diverse crowd of shoppers on Michigan Avenue, the major shopping destination in the city and a large number of music fans who were attending the Lollapalooza event taking place downtown. The leaflets, which contained information about HR 676, were well received and activists tried to clarify the misinformation that the Obama health plan would insure everyone.

Activists pointed out that any plan that includes the insurance companies is prohibitively expensive and is unsustainable. Single payer is like a new improved Medicare without the copays, deductibles and premiums. With a single-payer system Americans would get the efficiency of public funding and the quality of not-for-profit health care by private providers.

The healthcare rally was joined at the midpoint by anti-war marchers from the NO WAR ON IRAN protest which was visiting various locations to spread the word that the Bush Cheney crowd is still threatening war on Iran using the same lies and exaggerated threats that got us into the war with Iraq.

They gave a speech warning the Democrats not to fall into this war trap. ChiSPAN spoke on the need for real universal health care and on the enormous virtues of single payer to help address economic insecurity, the low quality of care in the US and the need to cover everyone. Everybody IN, Nobody Out is our slogan.

After the anti-war marchers left, health care rally-goers heard from Vanessa Beck about her life long struggle to obtain and keep health care after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Her experience with the disease, she said, has taken her through many troubles including, being harassed by her employer for costing the company too much, bankruptcy, compelled to stay in a bad relationship to keep insurance, a stay in the state mental hospital to deal with depression and various other insults to her health and her dignity.

After hearing her story, one of three youths from Canada in town for the music festival, stepped forward to talk about how this situation could never happen in their homeland because they have a single-payer health care system.

Health care activists pledged to continue the work of advocating for a single-payer system with speaker trainings, helping to form new single payer groups and organizing people to attend legislative hearings in support of the Illinois state single-payer bill, HB 311 sponsored by state Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago).