LoganSquarist values input from our neighborhood’s amazing residents in our letters-to-the editor series. In this letter, new Logan Square resident Emily Hall, a community organizer who serves on the steering committee for area political organization 32 Ward United, writes on behalf of the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, a group pressuring Illinois senators to support “Medicare for All.”
This has been the year of compounding crises — a global pandemic, police brutality and racial injustice, millions losing their jobs and health insurance, and a looming eviction crisis on a scale we’ve never seen before — and where is the action from our elected officials? Extra unemployment benefits of $600 per week ran out four months ago; there has been no rent or mortgage freeze, no expansion of access to health care, and the federal government has failed to pass another economic stimulus package to provide relief for the millions of Americans struggling to survive. Again, I ask, what are our elected officials doing to help us?
As a community organizer with the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, I am an advocate and champion of improved and expanded “Medicare for All.” I believe health care is a human right, and it is inhumane that we, the wealthiest nation in the world, do not guarantee health care to all, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Black, brown and assisted-living communities have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, while pharmaceutical and private health insurance companies have continued to profit off the sick and dying. The private health care industry wields massive political power and donates millions to elected officials to stifle the growing movement and public support for universal health care. It is long past due that we get big money out of politics!
The majority of our elected officials are more indebted to their big donors and their special interests than to the basic human needs and dignity of their constituents. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we at the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition launched a campaign to urge our U.S. senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, to sign the Patients Over Profits Pledge. By signing this pledge, elected officials can commit to not taking any campaign contributions from the private health care industry, including pharmaceutical and private health insurance companies.
Since the campaign launched this summer, we have collected hundreds of signatures from Illinoisans asking our U.S. senators to put patients over profits. We even met with Sen. Durbin’s staff, and in the most recent email communication with his staff, they stated the senator would not sign the pledge. As a constituent and organizer for Medicare for All, I am incredibly disappointed in my senator. As he is one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, I urge him to reconsider and to set an example and sign the Patients Over Profits Pledge.
We need elected officials who truly represent their constituents and put our basic needs, such as health care, before big corporate donors. We need elected officials who believe, just like we do at the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, that health care is a human right.
Visit ilsinglepayer.org to join the fight for improved and expanded Medicare for All so that we can build a more just and equitable future for all Americans.
Featured photo: Illinois Single-Payer Coalition
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