PT masthead
Go to Home page divide Go to Past Issues divide Subscribe divide Go to Links

Bus tour that is criss-crossing
Michigan and the nation.

By Joyce Mills RN
and Sal Sandoval MD

America has begun to deny healthcare in a startling new way. Faced with more uninsured but less local government money locally to care for them, counties are voting to bar illegal immigrants from preventative and primary care. Sacramento and Contra Costa Counties in California are leading the pack, and more counties across the country are planning to follow suit.

Doctors and other healthcare workers brace for the inevitable results; swamped emergency rooms, chronic and communicable diseases patients untreated… so healthcare workers and communities are fighting these cuts and finding ways to take care of patients “under the table.” It’s the only way to practice ethically in an unethical system. But what else can we do?

Part of the answer surely lies in the fight against anti-immigration legislation.  But these new changes are primarily about a failed healthcare system. They are about money, or lack of it, and government accountability, or lack of it, for the basic needs of society and its members.

The papers today are full of reports about denial of healthcare. They don’t call it rationing because the vast majority of care being denied is not due to government “bureaucracy,” but by private insurance companies. Government support for healthcare goes to those of us the private insurance system has already “rationed” care to. But with the government bailouts of the banking industry, the role of government in healthcare is back on the front burner, and many of us say, “It’s about time!”

This is not just about the immigrant, documented or otherwise.  It is about more and more of us. The first government supported care many of us see is in prison and last year the US Department of Justice found that 16% percent of inmates (more than 300,000 people) have a mental illness. In fact, a study found that Rikers Island in New York City and the Los Angeles County Jail each had more psychiatric patients than the largest U.S. psychiatric facility.

Even those trying to get treatment for addictions don’t get it. According to the Illinois Alcohol and Drug Dependence Association, 1.5 million Illinois residents did not receive treatment because they couldn’t afford it, and that was 5 years ago! As medical debt goes up and sick people are forced to take bad mortgages because they no longer have health benefits through union contracts, how many more are going untreated now? The barriers to getting and keeping coverage are so great that it has left many homeless and without care, even for diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

Scapegoating some of us will work only so long. Polls show that 70% of Americans or more consider health care a crisis needing “total overhaul” or “significant revision.” We know that private insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other corporate healthcare giants have been the key culprits, the reason so many are uninsured in the first place.

While we take care of people the best we can day to day, we have to enter the political debate for real change. We have to demand that government do whatever is necessary to guarantee healthcare to all of us, and this does not mean guaranteeing access to buying insurance from private corporations. Only when government guarantees healthcare itself will we be able to stop the affronts to the suffering among us and embark on a true ethic of care in our great nation.

Joyce Mills, RN, public health, and Sal Sandoval, MD, have supported single payer health care in California and across the U.S. They can be contacted at

An Ode to Leadership

Many leaders are leaders because they deserve it
Our previous commander was quite perverted
Many of our leaders are well pedigreed
GWB was this indeed
Calling himself cousin to princes and queens
The New World Order what does it mean?
Commander of this and chief of that
In the face of his authority he clearly spat,
Ruler of that, first citizen of this

Much of the world truly feels dissed,
The former administration of this nation
Clearly the elect ushers in a new era
When will we end the war on terror?
Can the battle be won without a skirmish?
Or shall the carnage leave us squeamish?
Long live our new Pres everyone’s pal,
Long life to his wife his number 1 gal!
-— Jason Wattle


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted.
Please include this message with reproductions of the article.