Over the past few days, more than 700 people from all over the country came together for the annual single-payer strategy conference. This year, we were in Chicago, my hometown, Of course we shared ideas, successes, concerns, and knowledge about the kind of healthcare reform that might truly give us the best healthcare system in the world through an improved Medicare for all for life model.
Leaders from this movement get precious little time to gather face-to-face during the year. There were scores of nurses from all over the country -- New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and beyond. There were doctors from all over the place. And there were those of us who are patients who have been injured (or might be injured) by our aggressively greedy healthcare system. Labor leaders brought the hopes of their rank and file membership that someday we will actually allow contract bargaining to surround much more than healthcare benefits and costs that have squeezed out other issues like wages, vacation and other leave benefits and so on.
The conference opened with a joint protest at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield building in Chicago. One of the great moments for me was seeing the medical students passionately calling for changes to their chosen profession. It gave me hope for the future and the potential for real change.
But the highlight of the conference for me came in something much less quantifiable but much more powerful -- the balm of knowing that this wonderful nation is filled with compassionate, decent people who believe in the promise of our Declaration of Independence in which we read that all men are endowed by their creator of certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There can be none of those dearly held rights for Americans when our healthcare system snuffs out any chance for equality and the opportunity to live life to its fullest extent.