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New Ground 29

Spring, 1993


  • Keep Single-Payer Pressure on Congress
  • West Suburban DSA Marks First Year of Activity by Paul Lenart
  • Oak Park Forum Illustrates New Health Care Reform Alignments by J. Hughes


    Bring pencil, paper, your mind, and great food.

    Chicago's DSA annual membership meeting will be held on Saturday, June 26th, 1993, at Loyola Park, 1230 W. Greeenleaf, from 11am until 4pm. All members are encouraged to attend and bring picnic food for our annual party!

    Like last year, Maggie Shreve, our female co-chair, will facilitate a discussion of where Chicago DSA is and wants to go. The process this year is more interactive, an, according to Shreve, "very fast paced."

    The planning process will take place from 11 a.m. until approximately 2pm in the Loyola Park center building. Shreve says that this process results in specific, concrete goals and activities that Chicago DSA can pursue in this coming and future years. "The most amazing thing about this process is that people develop into real work teams by its end," says Shreve. "I've used it five times since January and the amount of energy it has generated surpasses anything else I've ever done as an organization consultant."

    From 2pm until 4pm we will move outside for our annual party. Loyola Park has hibachi grills, so bring enough for yourself and a "share" item or two for our comrades.

    Any questions about the June 26th membership meeting should be directed to Shreve at 312/989-4385.

    Keep Single-Payer Pressure on Congress

    The White Task Force on Health Care Reofrm will release its bill to Congress at the end of the month. Contact your congressional representative during May and June to keep up the pressure on the President's Health Care Reform Task Force. Call 1-900-740-7900 ($2.90/call) to send a postcard to your member of Congress asking for their support for the American Health Security Act.

    In letters emphasize:

    We need to make the political argument that the window for change is the next 18 months, and presidential leadership should be used to win the only comprehensive solution to the crisis: single-payer reform. Whatever President Clinton proposes will be a tough sell, with a long road ahead, and will require new taxes. Why not work for the best solution?

    West Suburban DSA Marks First Year of Activity

    by Paul Lenart

    In April 1992 at the Unitarian Church of Naperville, a group of DSA members living in the suburbs met for the first time. Most of the 15 people attending had belonged to DSA for a year or more, but had never been aware of other socialists living nearby. After the long night of the Reagan-Bush years, in the shadow of the popularity of the Gulf War, and in monolithically Republican DuPage County, fifteen leftists in one place at one time seemed like a tremendous break out of isolation for many of us.

    Perhaps it is the relief from the extreme political isolation of individual socialists in the suburbs that explains the relative longevity and modest successes of the West Suburban DSA. Other Chicago-area geographically-based commissions have not maintained themselves, while the WSDSA has consistently held monthly meetings, participated as a group in the defeat of George Bush, the election of Carol Moseley Braun, and the campaigns for the House of Representatives of progressive Democrats Dennis Temple, Jonathan Reich, and Barry Watkins, and initiated three well-attended public forums on health care and NAFTA.

    The good news is that WSDSA has succeeded in coalescing a stable core group of five activists, eight regular participants, and another five to ten inermittently participating members. However, among the forty to fifty DSAers in the DuPage, Will, and Kane County area, half do not participate. Several members were central to the congressional race in the 14th district, while three more were active Democratic committeemen in the 13th and 6th districts; however, only one has significant influence within local political circles and that influence appears to be more technical than programmatic (he's a great organizer for the Dems; to what extent he moves them leftward is hard to say).

    Contacts have been initiated with NOW, Amnesty International, church-based peace and justice groups, and union locals in building the three forums. Unfortunately, with a couple of exceptions in feminist circles, these contacts have a long way to go before real coalitions can result. In terms of process, disagreements are handled in a principled and democratic manner at meetings, although as mentioned above, it is a minority of eligible DSAers who participate and therefore determine the direction of the group.

    Finally, there is the demographic issue: given our locale, it may come as no surprise that we have only one active member who is not ethno-culturally Anglo-American; what is surprising is the severe gender tilt toward males and the high proportion of Social Security recipients.

    Whatever our shortcomings, West Suburban DSA is here to stay. To make WSDSA all it should be, we invite the less active comrades to get to know us - all of us will be better than some of us. The next meeting takes place soon after the Debs dinner on Sunday, May 16 at 5pm, St. Michael's UCC Church, 345 W. Washington in West Chicago. For details call (708) 231-8058.

    Oak Park Forum Illustrates New Health Care Reform Alignments

    by J. Hughes

    The forum on national health care sponsored by DSA and the Campaign for Better Health Care March 31st at the Oak Park library illustrated some of the bizarre twists ahead for the single-payer struggle for the 40 people in attendence. Billed as a two-way debate on the merits of a state single-payer bill, the forum turned into a four-way discussion with substantial agreement among the parties.

    Representing single-payer were DSAers Tim Morris, a professor of Philosophy at North Central College and member of the Edwards Hospital Bioethics Committee, and Cathy McLaughlin, a nurse and lawyer. Speaking against single-payer were Mike Vivoda, sales rep for MacLean Health Care Providers, and Dr. Arvan Goyal, President of the Illinois Medical Society, the state's AMA.

    While Tim Morris reiterated the clear success of the Canadian system, and need for such a system here, Ms. McLaughlin pointed to the substantial restructuring of community health care that is required, restructuring that a single-payer system will only facilitate and by no means accomplish.

    In response, Mr. Vivoda agreed with the need for fundamental reform, and argued that managed care plans under "managed competition" will provide consumers with primary care doctors and force specialists and hospitals to stop forcing unnecessary care on the consumers. This so enraged Dr. Goyal, that he spent his time attacking both managed care and single-payer, and arguing for more tickering with the status quo.

    In question period, Mr. Vivoda was asked whether his proposed reforms couldn't just as well be accomplished under a single-payer plan, to which he answered yes! This led to our dubbing him "comrade managed care."

    The forum was a great success, and demonstrated clearly that (a) doctors have a lot more to lose under managed care than under single-payer, and (b) that all the supposed advantages of managed care can be accomplished better by a single-payer plan.


    "NO HEALTH CARE NO PEACE" was the chant when over 1,000 health care consumers representing 45 cities attended the Campaign for Better Health Care's annual Health Care ACTION Day in Springfield April 22... which happened to coincide with the vote on the single-payer Illinois Health Security Act -HB 1459.

    As of Thursday morning we had commitments of 52 legislators, with 60 needed for passage. As the buses started rolling in from Peoria, Danville, Decatur, Alton, Rock Island, Rockford, Aurora and ten from Chicago, along with carloads/vans form dozens of other cities, support for HB 1459 was growing.

    By 12:30 the State Capitol Rotunda exploded into chants of "NO HEALTH CARE NO PEACE." The handful of uncommitted legislators were beginning to lean our way. By 1:15 p.m. the whole floor of the State Capitol was filled with HB 1459 supporters and the pressure was on. By 2:00 p.m. we were at 57/58 votes and by 2:30 there was clear indication that if we could trust what all the legislators told us, we would have 60/61.

    At 2:45 the debate began, with Republicans (Black, Weller) and a couple Democrats(Mautino) regurgitating misinformation spread by the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois health insurance industry.

    When the vote was taken we found out two things: 1) The local grassroots efforts of the Latino community and the white ethnic areas were being successful at winning support of most of our targeted swings; and 2) Once again, like last year, legislators who were either co-sponsors of HB1459 and/or who had already voted for HB1459 voted No!

    HB 1459 received 57 YES 57 NO 2 Present 2 excused. The three weak-kneed legislators were:

    Judy Erwin (Chicago- D-11) - She is a co-sponsor of the bill and voted YES on March 31 st in the House Health Care Committee. Springfield # 217/782-8404 & District # 312/266-7453;

    Jeff Schoenberg (Skokie- D-56) Schoenberg voted for this bill on March 31st in the House Health Care Committee and committed to dozens of people and organizations that he would vote YES on the floor. This is the second year in a row that Schoenberg reneged his commitment to people. Schoenberg received $5,000 from the Illinois State Medical Society's PAC for his last election and we should know in the next couple of weeks what he received from the insurance lobby and others that opposed this bill. HB 1459 was the ISMS's and the insurance industry's top bill to defeat. Schoenberg fulfilled their wishes. Springfield #217/782-0499 & District 708/853-0130;

    Harold Murphy (Markham-D-30) Murphy a co-sponsor of the HB 1459 and Voted Present. Springfield #217/782-3424 and District # 708/424-3636.

    Urgent: Please call all three, especially Schoenberg, and express your and your organization's unhappiness with their vote. Remind them: NO HEALTH CARE NO PEACE. All the Republicans voted NO, except Skinner (Present). Other Democrats that voted NO [Gash - Deerfield /Highland Park; Granberg - Centralia/Carlyle; Hicks - Mount Vernon; Mautino -Spring Valley; McAfee - Indian Head Park/Summit; McPike - Alton; Novak- Kankakee; Rotello - Rockford].

    For the latest information at both the state and federal level, call the Campaign's HOTLINE 0-700-ONE-PLAN.

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