White lab coats swarmed the Capitol yesterday during a candlelight vigil for universal health care.
The American Medical Students Association, the largest independent medical-school organization, and its supporters rallied for the uninsured with a multitude of guest speakers.
Most notable was state Sen. Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, who introduced Senate Bill 13, which aims to create a single-payer health-care financing system in Wisconsin.
Other speakers included Dr. Linda Farley, a local activist and family physician; state Rep. Mark Miller, D-Monona; Dr. Quentin Young, former president of the American Public Health Association; and David Herszenson, second-year UW-Madison medical student.
Medical students demanded a policy that would include all citizens, not just those able to afford insurance.
“We want — we demand — that everyone is in and no one is out,” Herszenson said.
Legislation by Chvala would do just that — guarantee health insurance to all Wisconsinites by creating a universal health-care policy.
Chvala said health care is an integral part of the state, and it is necessary for everyone to have access.
“Access to quality health care is a critical need for every single person in Wisconsin,” Chvala said. “Far too many people in our state lack health-care coverage.”
Lack of adequate health care is a problem that spans the entire country, Chvala said, with nearly 15 percent of the entire population lacking access to even the most basic health care. Chvala said the answer to this problem is universal health care.
“As a state we must strive to meet the needs of all our citizens, and that means we must provide everyone with access to health-care coverage,” Chvala said. “Universal health care will do just that.”
Herszenson agreed that universal health care is the answer to the problem.
“Universal health care would enable us to see all patients regardless of insurance coverage,” he said.
Medical students say they are fighting for the uninsured because of their dedication to treating all people.
“As future physicians we went into this profession so we could see all patients, not just the ones with insurance,” Herszenson said.
The students were also fighting for the right to make their own decisions regarding a patient’s treatment without interference from insurance (or lack thereof) or from HMOs.
“I am going to be a future doctor, and I don’t want HMOs making decisions for me about how I treat people,” UW medical student Nicole Fett said.
Political activists attended to support Senate Bill 133, in an attempt to ensure the passing of a plan for universal health care.
“I think it’s very important to have a single, effective, comprehensive health-insurance system than the over 2,000 that we have to deal with right now,” said Roger Chapman, a political activist for Senate Bill 133.
UW medical student Cara Syth said it was important that the public be made aware of this nationwide problem.
“The goal today is to basically raise awareness about the problem about the number of Americans who do not have any health insurance,” Syth said.