The Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG) is an independent nonprofit organization that was formed in 1981 by an alliance of activist clinicians, social scientists, health care executives, and policy analysts to “advocate for health equity and improved public health” for the people of Illinois, particularly “the poor and under-served.” The lead founder of the organization was Quentin Young, a Chicago physician with many longstanding ties to Communist groups and causes. Today, Young is HMPRG’s board chairman.
HMPRG believes that “high-quality health care” is “a human right” to which “everyone is entitled … regardless of ability to pay,” and that a government-run, single-payer system that is “not profit-driven” is best suited for achieving this ideal.
The mission of HMPRG today is to “promote social justice and challenge inequities in health and health care,” on the premise that: (a) wide-ranging “social inequities” which pervade American culture are the reason why some people have high-quality health insurance while others do not; (b) “social determinants of health — those conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age — are primarily responsible for unfair and avoidable differences in health status”; and (c) “the elimination of health inequities — [along lines of] race and ethnicity, gender, education, income, geographic location, disability status and sexual orientation — will occur when society improves living conditions and tackles the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources.”
HMPRG’s various programs and projects are funded mostly through grants from charitable foundations. The organization’s major programs currently include the following:
* The Behavioral Health & Primary Care Integration program is designed to fund long-term services for people with mental illnesses.
* The Center for Long-Term Care Reform program was launched in 2001 to work with legislators, state agency leadership, advocates, and providers to make “home and community-based care” available to more senior citizens.
* The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows program was started in the mid-1990s to educate aspiring health and human-services professionals in such matters as violence prevention, health education, healthy-lifestyles promotion, and outreach to “vulnerable and marginalized groups.”
* The Chicago Area Health Education Center strives to “recruit, train and retain a health professions workforce committed to under-served populations.”
* The Court-Involved Youth program was initiated in 2002 to “address the health issues of court-involved youth in the juvenile justice system.” Toward this end, the program offers workshops for teens and HMPRG staffers alike on such topics as anatomy & safe sex, HIV/STI prevention, substance abuse, LGBTQ issues, domestic violence, parenting, and interpersonal relationships.
* The Free-Standing Birth Center program aims to create up to ten facilities statewide that “will provide cost-effective, high-quality prenatal and obstetrical services, giving women an additional option when choosing where to give birth.”
* The Health Care Reform program has published an array of fact sheets and analyses of the potential impacts that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) will likely have on the people of Illinois, particularly “vulnerable populations” such as nonwhite minorities, the elderly, and prison inmates.
* The Health Care Safety Net program seeks to “ensure a more seamless health system that works for all, especially the uninsured, underinsured, and underserved.”
* The Health Care Workforce Initiatives program promotes policies and strategies that it believes will promote the development of “a highly-trained and culturally-competent health care workforce” that is able to meet the needs of “an increasingly diverse population.”
* The Illinois ACE Response Collaborative represents a broad range of organizations, agencies, and professionals committed to reducing the incidence and impact of “childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)” like “abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction before the age of 18.” Such experiences have a host of lasting, deleterious effects on the physical and psychological well-being of youngsters when they reach adulthood, says HMPRG: “ACEs appear to be a root cause of many of our most challenging health and social problems, from smoking, to substance abuse, obesity, heart disease, low birth weight, unemployment, depression, and suicide.”
In May 2005, HMPRG president Linda Rae Murray was a special honoree at the 47th annual Eugene V. Debs/Norman Thomas/Michael Harrington dinner banquet sponsored by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. Specifically, the award cited Murray’s “advocacy of universal health care as a right of all citizens,” and her “willingness to speak out against the injustices of an unequal society.”