Resource: Brief speech linking local issue to single-payer


These remarks were prepared by Marcia Rothenberg, RN, for a press conference in support of National Nurses United, June 2011; but not delivered. This is a great example of a very short speech that effectively links an urgent, local, health-care-related issue to the larger single-payer movement.

My name is Marcia Rothenberg. I am representing the Illinois Single-Payer Coalition Chicago in support of the nurses in their struggle to keep County facilities open for the people of Chicago.

We support National Nurses United and the patients in the Cook County Health and Hospitals System as they struggle to maintain what access to health care they have.

I am a retired RN who worked at Cook County Hospital for 18 years, through numerous crises and constant underfunding. The public health care system is the port in the storm for thousands of people who do not have health insurance or do not have enough health insurance. Saving the Cook County Hospital System has always been as much a part of a nurse's job as nursing care. Always we have united with other workers and the community in order to provide health care, and to provide it as a human right.

At this time, more and more people are losing jobs and with it their access to health care. The stresses of life are being exacerbated by the economic crisis. It is astounding and inhumane to close the meager health care facilities we have. Crying "not enough money" is not an acceptable excuse. Reorganization of the system may be be needed. But until the new facilities are on the ground and running, those hospitals which are actually functioning need to be shored up , not closed.

We understand that the County problem is part of the dysfunctional, unjust , undemocratic and inhumane health care system in the United States. We believe that only a single payer system, Medicare for all, which covers everyone equally, which is not for profit, but treats health care as a human right , will solve the problem .

Under a single-payer system, the poor would not be segregated in a separate system. Rather, like everyone, they would have complete choice of hospitals, physicians, and other providers. All hospitals would be paid for the patients they care for. Hospitals would not be forced to close because the patients they serve are uninsured or under-insured. Hospitals would be located where they are needed, not where they can generate the most profit.

We oppose closing Cook County medical facilities until adequate replacements are on the ground. The needs of the people who use the facilities should be heard and should drive the plans for restructuring. We are confident that funding for operating the existing facilities adequately can be obtained if this is given the hightest priority.

And finally, we will continue to work for a medical delivery system which does not segregate, but covers everyone equally.



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