At a time when health-care costs are soaring and more and more Americans find themselves in the ranks of the uninsured, state and federal legislators should be addressing ways to provide affordable, quality health-care coverage for every American. In this country we are seeing a growing trend in which only the wealthiest Americans can afford to pay for quality health care. Our government is more concerned with providing wartime tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while slashing programs for low-income families and children.

States are systematically disenrolling some of the neediest recipients from their Medicaid programs. The press is not giving this issue the attention it deserves. First it was Mississippi, now Tennessee and Missouri. This sets a bad precedent. Many local citizens and organizations such as Iowa for Healthcare, Progressive Action for the Common Good's health-care forum, and Iowa Citizen Action Network are concerned about potential ramifications that the $10 billion in federal cuts will have on Iowa's Medicaid program as well. This is an issue that affects everyone in this country and should be treated as such by our "fourth estate." In an effort to speak to Senator Grassley about this issue while he's at home, his aide has relayed that his current schedule doesn't allow for an opportunity to meet with us. What will it take?

According to the National Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people die unnecessarily in this country every year due to lack of affordable health care. In my opinion, this is a crime against humanity. It is completely disingenuous to speak of moral values on any level if "quality of life" is ignored by those who profess to represent the people.

Caroline Vernon


Legislation Helps People Save Lives

I would like to call attention to House Bill 324, recently signed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The bill, the Organ Donor Leave Act, was co-sponsored by state Representative Mike Boland and is a great achievement for the state of Illinois. In times when state government is under constant scrutiny, it is refreshing to see that there are still members of the legislature out to preserve the rights of the citizens of Illinois.

The Organ Donor Leave Act allows an employee of the state of Illinois or a private employer in the state who has 15 or more employees to take time off of work to donate an organ. The bill also creates the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act. Now an employee of the state or a private employer employing 50 or more people will have the option of a one-hour paid leave to donate blood. This will be provided every 56 days.

As a blood donor myself, I find this bill a step in the right direction for Illinois. The people of Illinois have shown that they are willing to donate blood and organs to save the lives of their fellow citizens, and now the state is catching on. I would like to personally thank State Representative Mike Boland, as well as all of the other members of the Illinois General Assembly who supported the bill. House Bill 324 will allow the people of Illinois to continue saving lives.

Sophie Doroba

Legislative Intern


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