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Future Doctors Organize For Patients, Not Profits

Chanting, “This system – let’s stop it! Our health is not for profit!” and “What do we want? Single payer! When do we want it? Now!” a two-block-long river of medical and other health professional students – most in white lab coats – marched down Chicago’s crowded Michigan Avenue and rallied outside the gleaming skyscraper known as Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower last Saturday.

“We will no longer tolerate private insurance companies putting their bottom line above the health of our patients!” declared James Besante, a third-year student at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, in front of the BCBS offices. “No more!”

The crowd roared back, “Patients, not profits!”

Besante was one of a half-dozen student speakers at the rally who denounced the tightening grip of corporate greed on U.S. medicine and who called for a single-payer health system. All had just come from the 3rd Annual Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) Summit held earlier in the day at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The spirited rally was joined by members of PNHP, the Illinois Single Payer Coalition, National Nurses United, and a coalition that’s fighting to re-open a trauma center on Chicago’s South Side.

You can watch a 5-minute video of the march and rally here:

Univision WGBO-TV led off its 10 p.m. newscast with this 2-minute video about the rally:

You’ll find many photos of the march, rally and summit here and here.


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This year’s summit drew 80 students from 31 medical schools and six public health schools from 19 states, roughly double the size of last year’s gathering. The topics included “Single Payer 101,” “Advocating for Single Payer in an ACA World,” “Presenting a Student Grand Rounds,” and a panel on legislative advocacy.

Dr. Arthur Chen, a leader of PNHP in California, delivered the keynote, which was characterized by one student evaluator as “phenomenal, inspiring!”

First organized in 2012 by PNHP medical student members, the SNaHP Summit is PNHP’s only national program completely led and organized by students, for students. Emily Henkels, PNHP’s national organizer, provided key logistical support this year.

PNHP’s Nick Skala Student Activist Scholarship Fund was decisive in helping students from across the nation participate in this informative, motivational and practical summit. (Just one tangible result: concrete plans to establish at least four new campus chapters!)

The Scholarship Fund will also be supporting medical student participation at this year’s PNHP Annual Meeting,set for New Orleans on Nov. 15.

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