Schaumburg rally aimed at health care reform
By Kimberly Pohl
Shawn Janzen's volunteer work with the Peace Corps on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent was cut short when he got a virus affecting his vocal cords.
Back home in Carpentersville for a few months now and receiving regular throat injections, Janzen is still in sticker shock after shopping around for health insurance.
"It's a lifelong virus that puts me at a higher risk for cancer, so the rates are insanely high," Janzen said. "The government will pay for me for three years, but I don't know what I'll do after that."
Janzen's hope is Congress will move forward with health care reform that, among other measures, aims to provide affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
On Saturday, he joined about 15 other reform supporters with Citizen Action/Illinois and Health Care for America Now outside U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean's office in Schaumburg, united in their belief that legislation overhauling health care needs to move forward.
The group refused to be discouraged by the Republican upset in the Massachusetts Senate special election on Tuesday, which takes away the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority.
"It was disheartening because we were so close and it's going to be that much more difficult," said Dan Sherry, a small-business owner from Barrington who's uninsured. "But we can't let the vote be an excuse to stop fighting."
The small delegation said they appreciated Bean's vote last fall when the House narrowly passed a health care reform bill. However, they want to remind her that 37,000 individuals in her district are uninsured and 1,400 families for health care-related bankruptcies in 2008, according to an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees report.
John Gaudette, health care director for Citizen Action/Illinois, said there can't be incremental solutions such as banning denials for pre-existing conditions without mandates, instituting mandates without providing subsidies, and providing subsidies without raising revenue.
"Everything is intertwined," Gaudette said. "We need real solutions as opposed to Band-Aids."
Dr. Hal Snyder, of Arlington Heights, said Tuesday's election can't be seen as a referendum on health care reform because 98 percent of Massachusetts residents have health care.
"They don't feel the urgency there the way we do in Illinois," Snyder said. "We can care for everyone in this country without spending another dime if we do this right."