ISMS against current healthcare proposals; AFSCME for

By Ann Knef | Nov 5, 2009

On the eve of a crucial health care reform vote in Congress, positions are hardening.

The Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) recently issued an open letter to Illinois patients denouncing the plan.

"[W]e cannot support the direction of current proposals before Congress," states the letter signed by physician members of the Illinois State Medical Society.

Illinois State Medical Society President Dr. James Milam, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Vernon Hills, said the healthcare reform proposal being considered by Congress is built on the "faulty foundations of Medicare and Medicaid."

"That's the whole frustration," Milam said in a phone interview. "There is such a poor track record."

"Heaping more strain on these public programs without repairing their flaws will undermine your access to care," the ISMS letter states.

Member doctors say they are committed to meaningful reform and to preserving the physician-patient relationship.

In the meantime, the state's largest employee union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), is pressuring an Illinois Democratic delegation to vote for a House bill, which could be taken on Saturday.

AFSCME, which represents about 100,000 active and retired members in Illinois, claims that 8,100 families within five congressional districts filed health-care related bankruptcies in 2008.

The union is targeting Democratic Reps. Jerry Costello (12th District), Debbie Halvorson (11th District), Bill Foster (14th District), Dan Lipinski (3rd District) and Melissa Bean (8th District).

The report claims there are 40,000 uninsured individuals in Costello's district and 227,000 uninsured individuals in the five targeted districts.

"A 'Yes' vote on HR 3249 will ensure that these Illinoisans won't have to worry any more about their ability to afford health care for themselves, a sick child, or an ailing spouse," says the AFSCME report.

ISMS is opposed to government mandated treatment guidelines, a government subsidized public option, a single payor health system and the further expansion of Medicaid as a means of covering the uninsured.

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