The Public Square

Walter Matherly on Health Care Reform


My name is Walter Matherly, and I am a volunteer with the Champaign County Health Care Consumers.

As the elections approach, we once again begin to hear about the rapidly escalating cost of medical care in the United States. Perhaps the most daunting concern I see for me and my own family in the upcoming years is making sure our health care is affordable.

Health care reform is sorely needed, and any proposed health plan needs to be comprehensive and fiscally responsible. We need to treat health care as a basic human right, and deliver a plan that benefits everyday people.

Specifically, health coverage must be guaranteed to the entire population, thus correcting the errors inherent in the present private insurance patchwork.

Similarly, a just system must eliminate co-payments and deductibles, which often act as hurdles to accessing health care services.

Finally, a comprehensive health care system must be able to pay for itself from the beginning. The present method employed to do this by the private insurance industry includes many excessive, unnecessary, and redundant marketing and actuarial costs that a new program should eliminate.

It is the good fortune of Illinois residents to have a piece of legislation in the General Assembly that would provide for just such as system. House Bill 311 – the Health Care for All Illinois Act – would create a single-payer health insurance program for all Illinois residents. The program would provide coverage for doctor, hospital, long term, and mental health care, as well as dental, vision, and prescription drugs. The program created would have no premiums, co-payments, or deductibles. And finally, this program would pay for itself by eliminating wasteful private insurance administration and profit, which currently accounts for over 24% of every health care dollar spent.

You can learn more about this legislation at a Community Legislative Hearing scheduled for Thursday, September the 18, 2008 at 6 p.m. at the Illinois Terminal Building, 45 East University Avenue in downtown Champaign. Please come, listen, and talk. Understand what promises to be the most critical issue to emerge from the elections.

For more information, contact Champaign County Health Care Consumers at 217-352-6533 or visit