Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and Rep. Mike Boland (D – E. Moline) launched a drive today to create “Public Health Advocates,” a new public interest group designed to give Illinois health care consumers a greater voice.
“Public Health Advocates will empower Illinois’ health care patients,” said Quinn. The not-for-profit membership group would be modeled after the successful Citizens Utility Board (CUB), whose creation was spearheaded by Quinn in 1983. The Public Health Advocates Act (HB 4564) would advocate public health initiatives and promote the interests of health care consumers.
“We need a group like Public Health Advocates to tackle the issues we will face in the coming decade,” Quinn said. “Price gouging by pharmaceutical companies, access to affordable health insurance and prudent public health measures are just a few of the issues the Public Health Advocates can address.”
Quinn was joined at the press conference by sponsor of the bill Rep. Boland, the first Vice President of CUB. Nationally recognized public health care advocate Dr. Quentin Young, past president of the American Public Health Association joined Quinn at a press conference later that afternoon in Chicago to show his support of the legislation.
“There are countless examples in the health field for which Public Health Advocates could support and educate,” said Quinn, mentioning public health challenges facing Illinois communities such as “epidemics” like dental decay, asthma and lack of decent health care.
Health care consumers would be invited to join Public Health Advocates through membership inserts in various mailings such as property and income tax mailings, water bills, and driver’s license renewal forms. Members would then elect their first Board of Directors who would serve without salary. Membership fees set at $5 (with no taxpayer dollars) would pay operating expenses.
“This is CUB for health care consumers,” said Quinn. “Just as CUB has advocated and fought for Illinois utility rate payers for more than 20 years, the creation of Public Health Advocates would give individual health care consumers a watchdog, too.”
“It’s time to give health care consumers a way to band together,” he said.
In 2001, Quinn and Dr. Young walked across Illinois from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan on behalf of the Bernardin Amendment that calls for decent health care for everyone.