State Rep. Mary Flowers Holds Hearing on Single Payer Medical System

After almost 24 years in office, Chicago’s State Rep. Mary Flowers still has passion for her job.

Chairperson of the Health Care Availability Access Committee, Flowers came to McHenry’s Shah Center, operated by McHenry County College to hear testimony.

I got there after State Rep. Mike Tryon testified, but still got a lot of the content, some of which will be laid out here.

“We come up with these catch plans like ‘All Kids.’ Can’t we at least try it?” she asked about her proposal.

“The system is broken. Health care is broken.”

Nick Skala, who was the one called upon to explain the details of the bill, explained that the cost would be an additional “2% personal income tax,’ plus “a 7% payroll tax.”

Since the personal income tax is now 3% (up from 2½% before the time of Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, who both signed bills to raise the rate to 3%), a two percentage point increase would in reality be a 67% hike in the individual income tax rate and the amount people would pay.

Flowers heard the testimony of people from within and without McHenry County.

Then, she gave her experience of accompanying her brother to the doctor.

But, first she told how she learned she was to chair the committee. House Speaker Mike Madigan called to inform her. She told him she didn’t know anything about health care.

“But, Mary, you’re going to.” Then he hung up. He told me he had more important people to talk to. (One can read that sentence in two ways. I assume Madigan was telling Flowers that she was important, but that he had other important people to talk to.)

“I went with my brother to find out what’s going on. I went to the doctor with my brother.

“’Well, Mr. Flowers, it looks like you’ve lived a pretty good life. We could operate and you’d walk around all your life with a bag.

“’Face it. You’re 51 years old. I suggest you go home, enjoy life and die like a man.’

“You can’t do this!” Flowers asserted. “Who do you think you are?

“I can’t tell what else I told him, but he’s no longer practicing in this state.

“I swore my presence would be felt.”

If that hasn’t provided passion for her mission, I can’t imagine what has.

“I’ve seen people lying on gurneys,” she continued, pointing out they weren’t just black people, but people (I think she said) “like us.”

“They were not waiting for the doctor. They were waiting to get permission from the insurance company (to receive medical care).

“Who am I to say which one of you should live or die?

“If you don’t like (the way local politicians are representing you), I’d suggest you vote the bums out.”

There was more, of course, but it’s past midnight and I’ve had a long day.

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All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.


State Rep. Mary Flowers Holds Hearing on Single Payer Medical System — 2 Comments

  1. Nice try on the “big tax” scare-mongering, Cal, I guess you didn’t make it all the way through the 1-page handout.

    First, I specifically and repeatedly said that we endorsed no specific tax structure, the only thing that was certain is that we already spend enough to pay for HB 311 WITHOUT raising any more spending.

    Yet even though you take the liberty of engaging in some interesting tax math, you fail to mention that the 2 percent income tax you disdain would be more than totally offset by the reduction in premiums, co-payments, deductibles and other out of pocket costs IL families pay. Don’t take my word for it, though. The international financial consulting firm hired by the State (Navigant Consulting) already said it was true when it ranked the single-payer plan higher than any other submitted plan.

    I like to tell myself that Republicans are really reasonable, honest dealers, but when I see cushy selective reporting like this, it makes it tough to believe that. -Nick Skala

  2. Posted 8/1/8 Just found this comment.

    I read both pages. Sorry if I misinterpreted the handout and what was said.

    I would point out that in Tennessee, when TENN Care was adopted, a program with more than a little similarity to the one proposed by Rep. Flowers, it was not going to break the bank either.

    But, it did.

    I’m posting this on a Saturday, so I can’t search out the Legislative Research Council report on a previous universal health care proposal which would have required an approximate doubling of the state income tax. Maybe my memory of that influenced what I wrote a bit too much.

    Still, I’d be willing to bet money that the financial prediction of this plan’s authors are incorrect by a wide margin.

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