By Siobhan Kolar
The people started lining up an hour early in Aurora, Illinois, 40 miles west of Chicago and not a hotbed of radical socialism, to hear Representative Dennis Kucinich talk about HR 676, the single payer bill he co-authored with John Conyers. "Hastert Country" recently turned blue with the election of Democrat Bill Foster, but conservative ideas still dominate. But people want to know about healthcare. Two fiftyish white women said their pastor told them to attend. Another woman stood on the edge and left, telling one organizer, "I think you are really on the wrong track" and others discussed their viewpoints in small knots in the hallway.
It was a real grassroots event with details coming together at the last minute and the speakers' list growing as Rep. Mary Flowers and Rep. Mike Boland, two primary sponsors of Illinois single payer bill HB311, joined single payer speakers, antiwar activists, representatives of labor and Greens.
What drew them together was the belief that single payer was the answer, and the desire to hear Dennis Kucinich, co-author with John Conyers of HR 676, the single payer bill that would make healthcare available to all at a huge cost savings because 1/3 of every healthcare dollar going to insurance companies would now go to healthcare. The bill currently has 86 sponsors. Kucinich believes that the time for HR 676 is coming and that the movement has to build nationally and state by state.
On the bill in the House, Kucinich told the 300 plus crowd, "Let me be clear, I am not here in support of HR 3200," he said "because it keeps insurance companies in the game." Kucinich said that when he and John Conyers wrote the single-payer bill they viewed healthcare for all as the next civil rights struggle.