The past year has seen major growth in Chicago DSA and a boom in the formation of the working groups that carry out our campaigns. The Health Care Working Group was formed in 2017 by CDSA members excited to organize for healthcare reform.
After a discussion at Chicago DSA’s first Northside branch meeting, a loose conversation formed online among members who were concerned about healthcare issues in Chicago and how CDSA could address them. The conversations led to in-person meetings at happy hours and coffee shops. The first official CDSA Health Care Working Group meeting was held in July and we were excited to prepare for the DSA Convention in August.
Chicago DSA had a Health Care Working Group table at the convention and were able to meet DSA members from across the country. John Hieronymus organized a medic and wellness station for attendees. It was great to be at the convention to witness the democratic work of our organization. We were pleased to hear that the main priority for DSA in the next two years will be healthcare reform.
Energized after the convention, we were excited to organize, educate, and do outreach in our community. Bernie Sanders added to the momentum in September when he introduced the Medicare-for-All bill that was endorsed by the National DSA. We reached out to the Illinois Single Payer Coalition and ISPC’s Anne Scheetz came to speak to our working group and at a single-payer happy hour at Café Mustache in Chicago’s Logan Square. CDSA member Marianela D’Aprile moved to Chicago from Oakland, and she shared her experiences canvassing with East Bay DSA for single payer in California.
Due to the complexities in the present healthcare system—and with encouragement from our members who work in the healthcare industry—we thought it was important to educate our chapter and ourselves. In October we held an event at the National Nurses United space called “The Economics and Politics of Healthcare.” CDSA member and Economist Bill Barclay spoke, as well as physician and author David Ansell (County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital) and Kathy Chambers from the Illinois Single Payer Coalition.
Chicago was lucky to be a stop on DSA member Tim Faust’s road trip. Tim was speaking with different chapters about healthcare issues. On October 14, the In These Times offices were packed to the gills to hear Tim speak. DSA’s National Political Committee was meeting in Chicago that same weekend and NPC member Jeremy Gong stopped by to give a report back.
It was a great evening and afterwards there was much socializing, discussion, and planning.
The CDSA Health Care Working Group is currently working on a media initiative to document patients’ and physicians’ experiences under the current healthcare system. We are also looking to reach out to our community to work for the healthcare needs of veterans, the undocumented, and the uninsured. We are keeping in touch with National DSA and following the progress of Medicare-for-All work.
Healthcare reform is an enormous task. Many of us have felt the pain of living with a broken healthcare system for most of our lives, but changes are necessary and lives are depending on it. Health Care is a Human Right. The DSA will keep fighting. Solidarity and Medicare for All.