Illinois Governor names a public health advocate: mirabile dictu

Illinois is not a state I know well, despite having spent five terrifying days and nights in 1968 being chased around its major city by its (then) rabid constabulary and almost losing my life in the process. It was decades before I could bring myself to return there, but when I did I found a vibrant, electric city with some of the greatest food anywhere. Some things hadn't changed that much, though, and Chicago and Illinois politics have remained, well, "different." Think Rod Blagojevich.

Well, don't. He's not the Governor any more. After Blago's impeachment, his estranged Lieutenant Governor, Pat Quinn, assumed the office (I almost wrote "assumed the positiion" but then thought better of it). I don't know much about Quinn, other than what is on his Wikipedia page, but he has just done something quite unusual: appointed a public health advocate for Illinois. It turns out he is someone I know (although haven't seen for many years) and he was also around in the 1968 days. His name is Quentin Young and he is indeed a genuine advocate for public health and former personal physician to Martin Luther King:

Quentin Young marched beside King during a protest in Chicago in 1966 and treated him when an angry spectator hit him with a rock.

Quinn created the position of public health advocate in November. The office will help to develop public health strategies that prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases.

Young plans to help residents understand health coverage provisions and their public health rights. The program will be housed in the state public health department and will use current staff and resources.

Young has agreed to be paid $1 a year for the position. (Chicago Sun Times)

Quentin is the national coordinator of PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) and testified in June before the House Ways and Means Commmittee of Congress. In his short testimony he efficiently picked apart the then proposals for health care reform being floated by the leadership:

First, because the discussion draft is built around the retention of private insurance companies, it is unable — in contrast to single payer — to recapture the $400 billion in administrative waste that private insurers currently generate in their drive to fight claims, issue denials and screen out the sick. A single-payer system would redirect these huge savings back into the system, requiring no net increase in health spending.

Second, because the discussion draft fails to contain the cost control mechanisms inherent in single payer, such as global budgeting, bulk purchasing, negotiated fees and planned capital expenditures, any gains in coverage will quickly be erased as costs skyrocket and government is forced to choose between raising revenue and cutting benefits.

Third, because of this inability to control costs or realize administrative savings, the coverage and benefits that can be offered under the discussion draft will be of the same type currently offered by private carriers, which cause millions of insured Americans to go without needed care due to costs and have led to an epidemic of medical bankruptcies. (Young Testimony, June 9, 209)

Advocating for public health is a missing ingredient in the public square. Naming an actual person -- and one of Quentin Young's stature -- to do it is unheard of.

Good for you Governor Quinn. I hope you and the people of Illinois listen to him.

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Hate to be cynical off the bat, but don't get too excited just yet. Quinn is running for re-election and the state is broke, leaving all state agencies (including public health) in disarray and dissent. Young's a longtime good guy here but as a lifelong resident I immediately suspect the motives of any public official when it comes to moves like this.

Stay tuned!

Dr Young's role in PNHP and as the Illinois
Public Health Advocate are worthy of support,
and I wish him well.

I suspect the downstate Republican machine
will do their best to thwart Dr Young's
efforts, as his position might be perceived
as one that Chicago residents will benefit
most therefrom. I can already hear the
hostile, denegrating "tea party"-type

We're all machine Democrats up here, y'know.
Even those of us who don't live in Cook
County. (/sarcasm)

Revere, that is only a suggestion that 400 million would get put back into the system. You cant make that statement with any hope of belief, an assumption at best. Besides and we do know this, the suppliers will game the system.They will then raise prices to the point including the 400 mill that they say they cant give it to the government for the prices that they want. So Government has two choices, they will raise taxes to meet the need until they cannot raise it anymore or they will cut services to select sectors. Thus the control of your life is in the hands of government. Literally in the hands of a bureaucrat. Single payer is even worse. They have to get approval for EVERY procedure from the government and anything out of the norm is categorically denied. You will disagree. Perhaps I can put you on with a person in Australia whose mother is dying of cancer that I know. If testing had been done then they would have found the ovarian cancer that has now spread to her bones. Nope, denied because she was 68 years old.

UK/Canada/Sweden are good examples. When the two can no longer meet in their twain the sock it to the poor user gets shafted with huge delays in treatments, older people pushed aside and well just about all the horror stories that you hear and these are already known stories. I dont and didnt invent them, it is stuff that is already happening and will happen.

Add in the fact that it will kill the economy too as it has in your home state. The plan there is already I believe I read 500 million in the hole and it accounts for 2 out of every 3 dollars taken in as taxes and thats with the forced compliance mandate. People are leaving and taking their money with them.

The idea is that these people cant get health care is false, but what isnt is that most of them have never, ever paid any taxes or worked long enough to get insurance at a company.

Add in that RESOUNDINGLY the bent for slow down, get a better program together and above all equal protection under the law is what the people want. The Dems are hellbent on their own destruction and I can tell you that if they want to save their party they need to stop and think for a bit. Single payer, public option? I doubt it will pass in its present form even with the gaming of the system by the Dems. They now see what the costs will not only be to the people but the party that has to flee from the wrath of the people who pay the bills here, not the poor uninsured users. Those people who have money are the employers. You take it away and you take the jobs all money goes to the Politburo. 15 states are also now going after the Nelson provision if it passes and it will have to be completely redone if it does pass because its not legal. You also tout this guy Young like he is some saint because he treated King. What kind of adulations do you give to the women that King slept with?
You like him because he likes single payer. I dont like him period except for the fact that he is a doctor. I mean come on... thats not a resume thing unless you are a Communist wannabe.

As for the bill, it needs by my count 10 senators votes on the Dem side and any one of them that bails on it will ensure that it doesnt come out. Taxes, taxes, control, control....Everyone is starting to figure out what this is going to cost and the answer is that a paradigm shift is not such a good thing in a lot of cases. If it does go in, then unemployment on the U6 level will increase to at least 25%. That might just shut it down completely too as costs would exceed the intake. So high taxes, high interest rates and limited health care for anyone past 60 is going to do them and you would and will see a super majority of conservatives for all of the house and senate, and then the immediate confirmation of very conservative judges.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 11 Jan 2010 #permalink

Why on earth do people imagine that government bureaucrats are more likely to deny coverage than corporate bureaucrats?

If you want to cite Australia, please note that we have much better life expectancy for much lower cost than the US. I'll take our "failure" over the US system any day. And we do still have private options. This possibly imaginary Australian woman could have done it the American way if she had the funds. And lacking the funds, she wouldn't have done well in the US, either.

Cath.... The Canucks wanted to JAIL people last year who bought private insurance out of the system. Why? Because it would start to tank their NHS. Why would they want to leave such a vaunted system? For those in Oz, for every one you roll up that likes it I can roll up three that said we would be nuts to do it. We cant leave out the Brits either as their rationing body now says that cancer drugs are too costly.…

Yeah, let me rush out to let bureaucrats to make decisions about health care. At least I can fire a plan and they know it. Bureaucrats are like fleas on a dogs back. You can dip them, you can shave them off but they always come back.

Agreed... They need to create a federal pool for people who want to be in one that cant get insurance. Agreed... They need to pay into such a system meaning the users.
Agreed... They should be afforded the equal rights to healthcare (they have it now) as stated in every hospital
Disagreed that it will save money. In fact the NHS in the UK has admittedly had to ration care over all and not just for drugs due to the costs which are outstripping taxes by almost 23% in the last three years.
Disagreed that the care that would be offered under it would be realistically better. In fact two of my very good doctors said that they will NOT join any system. In fact the cuts made by Medicare under their rationing now has forced hospitals to cut services. Yeap... Now they are going after the seniors.
Disgreed that single payer is going to do anything but raise the prices. Its typical. The GAO now says that there is no savings at all to a single payer plan.

Outcome-Borrowing more and more money makes the economy unsustainable. The libs would hang onto healthcare as the last float on the sinking boat. But as with all ships going down, it will drag us all under. How do I know? Rationing in the UK, rationing in Canada. And I dont plan to be ringing and waiting on my flower pot to drink from. Any jackass that turns and says well we wont cover that because your deathpanel says you dont qualify is going to find themselves at the end of a courtroom. Again, equal protection under the law. If they will give a drug to someone but not another then they are done and wrongful death lawsuits will jack this cost up like a rocket. GAO now says it will cost twice as much as earlier expected. Flighty bunch that... political wind changed so now reality and without Reid has come to pass.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 13 Jan 2010 #permalink

@M. Randolph Kruger:

I have to take issue with your rationing comments. There is not a healthcare system in the world which has enough money to provide every patient with the latest and absolute best treatment. Private insurance does nothing but extract money from the system for private profit. If the US system worked so well there wouldn't be the current demand for change.

You quote an article from the Daily Mail to support your point that the NHS is underfunded. The Daily Mail is not exactly a news source known for being accurate and impartial -- in the article you reference its description of two drugs as 'wonder drugs' on the basis of just two recipients' experiences should give you a clue. Its final comment comparing the lack of prostate cancer screening (and suggested subsequent deaths) to the existence of breast cancer screening (even though there are still a similar number of deaths from breast cancer) completely ignores the fact that most men can live for twenty years with prostate cancer (whether they know it or not; other causes of death may intercede!) before it becomes a serious problem, yet breast cancer tends to be a life threat within a year or two. You also have to consider the effects of false positives from large screening programmes, where unnecessary treatment can take place.

All in all, I'll stick with the NHS. And they have little shops. I like little shops.