The Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC) was founded in 1989 by representatives of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens (now called Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans), the Illinois Public Action Council (now called Illinois Citizen Action), and the Coalition for Consumer Rights. CBHC is a coalition of more than 300 organizations claiming that “accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for ALL people” (emphasis in original). CBHC cites its “commitment to social justice” as the inspiration behind its drive to allocate vast taxpayer resources to the financing of a single-payer, government-run, “universal health care system.” While its ultimate objective is to bring about such a system on the national level, CBHC’s activities are generally focused more narrowly on “the fight for health care justice in Illinois.”
During the first three months of 1993, CBHC collected more than 75,000 postcards from Illinois residents expressing their support for a government-run health care plan. In March of that year, the coalition delivered those postcards to Bill Clinton, in an effort to buoy the new President’s quest to enact health care legislation.
In 1999 CBHC lobbied successfully to expand health care services and expenditures in Medicaid/KidCare for such items as mental health and dental hygiene. The following year, the coalition launched an initiative called IU2K (Illinois Universal 2K), as part of the national U2K campaign to fully socialize the American health care system within the first decade of the 21st century.
In 2002 CBHC helped craft the Health Care Justice Act with then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama and State Rep. William Delgado (the bill’s chief sponsors), to increase taxpayer-funded “access to a full range of preventive, acute and long-term health care services.”
In 2003 CBHC collaborated with Senator Obama to hold public hearings throughout Illinois, advocating universal health care. It also produced an educational video featuring testimonies from uninsured people and practicing doctors who favored the implementation of a government-run system. To this day, CBHC continues to collect and publicize such stories from people recounting the difficulties they have experienced as a result of rising insurance premiums and high-deductible plans — all to demonstrate the need for an overhaul of the current system.
Jim Duffett has been CBHC’s Executive Director since 1994. Holding a master’s degree in International Political Economics from the University of Pittsburgh, Duffett has testified before state and federal legislative committees on the subject of health care. He also serves on the board of the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN).
CBHC’s board of directors is composed of representatives from a number of influential organizations, including the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition as well as such unions as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the United Steelworkers of America. The group’s highest-profile board member is Jesse Jackson.
Among CBHC’s 300+ organizational members are the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Arab American Action Network, Catholic Charities, the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, the Chicago Gray Panthers, the Chicago Institute on Urban Policy, the Eighth Day Center for Justice (Chicago), Illinois Public Action, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, the League of Women Voters of Chicago, the League of Women Voters of Illinois, the National Association of Social Workers, (Illinois Chapter), the Peace & Justice Network (Wheaton), the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Service Employees International Union (numerous locals), UNITE Here!, the United Auto Workers (Region IV), the United Electrical Workers (District Council No. 11), the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers of America, the United Paperworkers Industrial Union (Region 8), the local United Rubber Workers International, and the United Steel Workers (Local 67).
CBHC has received financial backing from several dozen large foundations, including the Ford Foundation, Funding Exchange, the Kellogg Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Vanguard Foundation, the Wieboldt Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago.