Panelists discuss universal healthcare at Indivisible Evanston meeting


Emma Edmund / Daily Senior Staffer

Leslie Combs, district director for Jan Schakowsky (9th) at Tuesday’s meeting. Combs relayed Schakowsky’s support for the Medicare for All Act introduced in February.

Emma Edmund, Assistant City Editor

Panelists discussed universal healthcare possibilities with Evanston residents at Tuesday’s Indivisible Evanston meeting.

Indivisible Evanston brought three speakers to their May chapter meeting who described the current state of healthcare in Illinois and explained legislation that could lead to universal healthcare, including the Medicare for All Act.

Indivisible Evanston is an organization whose mission is to “resist Donald Trump’s attempt to replace our democracy with authoritarian plutocracy” through non-violent action.

Graciela Guzman, one of the panelists, is a coalition manager for Protect Our Care Illinois — a statewide coalition of healthcare advocates who fight against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. She said the ACA has been under attack, citing the Texas judge who struck down the ACA as unconstitutional in December. The ruling is currently in the appeals process in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“There’s been some pretty heavy sabotage on both the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid,” Guzman said. “We’re seeing less folks… enrolled than before.”

Panelists then discussed alternatives to the ACA, including the Medicare for All Act, introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on February 27. The bill would provide health care to all U.S. residents and cover items and services required for medical treatment, such as hospital treatment and prescription drugs. It would also prohibit certain charges for services, such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance fees.

Dr. John Perryman, another panelist and a pediatrician from Roscoe, Illinois, talked about current American spending on healthcare. He discussed statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that lists the U.S. as having the second-lowest coverage rate of OECD countries despite spending the most for healthcare as a nation.

“I’m a doctor,” Perryman said. “I like people to spend money on healthcare, but this is clearly not a sustainable thing.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), who has publicly supported the Medicare for All Act, introduced the Medicare for America Act to the House in 2018. The Act provides for more incremental change, allowing employer-sponsored care, which Medicare for All would prohibit.

The final panelist, Schakowsky’s district director Leslie Combs, said that Schakowsky still supports Medicare for All “100 percent.”

Some residents, however, raised concerns that by continuing discussion of the Medicare for America Act, Schakowsky isn’t showing true support for the Medicare for All Act. [ Combs reiterated her previous statement that Schakowsky supports Medicare for All.

“Congresswoman Schakowsky supports Medicare for All,” Combs said. “She’s on the bill. You can go look it up.”

Medicare for All, however, still has several steps before it can become law. The bill must pass through both Chambers of Congress and signed by the President — or passed over a veto by a two-thirds congressional vote — before it can become law. If the law passes on its current terms, its provisions would have to be fully implemented within two years of enactment.

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