Campaign for Better Health Care

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Campaign For Better Health Care
CBHC orginization logo3.jpg
Founded 1989
Founders Jim Duffett
Type Health Care
  • 44 E. Main Street Suite 414 Champaign, IL 61820

    1325 S. Wabash Avenue, Suite 305, Chicago, IL 60605
Area served

The Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC) is a grassroots coalition of more than 300 local and statewide organizations representing consumers, health care workers and providers, community organizations, seniors, religious organizations, labor, disability rights organizations, and other citizens to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system that provides for the health care needs of all Illinoisans. Founded in 1989, CBHC is now Illinois’ largest health care coalition.

Mission statement[edit]

We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for ALL people. The Campaign for Better Health Care is a coalition of organizations and individuals, working to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system that provides for all.


A year before CBHC’s founding, a handful of downstate community organizations (Danville Area Community Services Council and the Champaign County Health Care Consumers) and statewide grassroots health care organizations (Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, then Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens; Illinois Citizen Action, then Illinois Public Action Council; and the Coalition for Consumer Rights) established the Campaign for Better Health Care to provide a central statewide grassroots health care organization responsible for the health reform battle.

Accomplishments/Activities 1990's[edit]

In 1989, CBHC advocates for a progressive reform policy and builds a coalition of African American legislators in Chicago and Caucasian legislators downstate to work on health care issues affecting both rural and urban areas of the state. CBHC launches the Rural and Urban Health Initiative in 1990, which expands the need and roles of community health centers and public health districts, develops alternatives for hospitals to not close in medically under-served areas, bolsters the expansion of immunization programs, and establishes an allied health services corp (educational opportunities for nurses, social workers, and doctors).

In the two years following, CBHC accomplished many things including:

  • Established eleven functioning local grassroots working committees throughout the state
  • Initiated the Congressional Outreach Project, which develops the Congressional Organizing Kit, to focus on health care reform from the perspective of "Health and Healing"
  • Mobilized over 1,000 people to attend 1st ever "Health Care Action Day" in Springfield, IL to protest budget cuts to Medicaid and create support for the Illinois Universal Health Care Plan (single-payer)
  • Coordinated with the National Emergency Drive for Health Care for Illinois, holding 47 separate public education events with 4,000 participants, gathered 97,500 ballots in support of health care reform sent to Washington, and in Chicago, IL 1,300 people attended the largest national drive focusing on universal health care and the national crisis
  • Initiated local grassroots campaign to stop Medicaid discrimination
  • Rallied 1,300 health care activists in front of the Illinois State Medical Society's (ISMS) building in Springfield, IL to protest their unanimous opposition to a wide range of health care reforms and universal health care
  • Delivered nearly 200,000 postcards to state legislators in support of the Illinois Universal Health Care Plan

A few other events that also occurred in these two years were the Congressional Outreach Project (COP), which initiated the "Health and Healing Day/Week", and CBHC organized a statewide public policy debate between congressional candidates running in seventeen of twenty congressional districts. 100 members of the Campaign traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas and joined another 1,000+ members of the Universal Health Care Action Network to inform President Clinton of the need for true national health care reform. CBHC also gathered over 75,000 postcards (in Illinois, in less than 3 months) and delivered them to President Clinton in March 1993. This resulted in a single-payer bill to pass out of both the Illinois House and Senate Health committees.

In 1993, 5 hospitals in Chicago sign pledges agreeing to abide by and to post Hill-Burton regulations and not to discriminate against Medicaid recipients. Also in this year, over 1,000 people attend the Campaign's annual "Health Care ACTION Day" in Springfield, IL. A year later, CBHC succeeded in organizing 97 separate events around Illinois during National Health Care for People Week, mobilizing 1,500 people to attend Unity Health Care ACTION Day in Springfield, IL, initiating Phone ACTION Network (1,300 active participants) and Letter to Editor Network (25 papers), and establishing regular accountability committees in 12 Congressional Districts.

CBHC formed a Medicaid/Managed Care Monitoring Task Force and Corporations of Health Care Task Force in 1995 and utilized "Your Story is Important" fliers to counter the misinformation campaign against Medicaid managed care. In the next year, CBHC kicks off a campaign detailing Medicaid managed care abuses throughout Chicago, successfully organizes a statewide campaign to encourage the Illinois state legislature to enact a ban on all door-to-door and direct marketing. CBHC also initiated town hall debates/educational forums in targeted Congressional districts around Illinois to build support against Medicare and Medicaid cuts. CBHC also created the Managed Care Task Force and helped to pass a "Drive-through Delivery Bill" to protect women.

In 1997, CBHC surveyed members about problems of Medicaid managed care horror stories and gathered over 2,000 Medicaid managed care stories in 4 months, which later served as the origin of the CBHC helpline. This action forced the State of Illinois to ban all door-door marketing/other direct marketing and blocked the state from getting a federal waiver to enact Medicaid managed care. CBHC developed standards (Health Care Bill of Rights) for all managed care consumers that was introduced in the General Assembly and co-authored the "Health Care Choices Book for the Chicago Area." CBHC also held dozens of hearings around the state, initiated a targeted organizing campaign in the Latino community of Pilsen and the surrounding communities, and released three reports on the impact of cuts to Medicaid/Medicare and airs radio ads throughout the state.

A case that originates from CBHC’s helpline goes to the Supreme Court in 1998, which rules in 2002 in favor that no HMO can refuse to allow you to get a second opinion. CBHC intervenes in 4 for-profit mergers by stopping two of them, wins concessions to keep vital local services operation and health care programs in place after the mergers, and forces Columbia/HCA to lower its initial selling price of several hospitals by $34 million. Also in this year, CBHC launched a statewide campaign to expand local and statewide public accountability of health care facilities (when they are planning to merge), expand/change the level of free care they offer, and continue to ensure that providers honor their community benefits obligations. CBHC initiated a Medicare managed care monitoring and surveillance project that trains volunteers to go undercover and document a series of abuses by Medicare managed care companies in a publicity release report. CBHC exposed the abuses of two Medicare managed care companies by seeking stronger oversight by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and CBHC supported the development and implementation of KidCare.

In 1999, CBHC continued to collaborate with consumers, health care providers and social service providers to improve access to health care services in Medicaid/KidCare and expanded outreach to kids younger than 5 years old, including mental health, oral hygiene, and other care. Also, the Consumer Managed Care Medicare Bill of Rights passed in the Illinois General Assembly. The following year CBHC initiates an educational campaign with families about dental health services and medical services available in Chicago, which brought together over 100 organizations to collaborate on state-based principals for universal health care, and started an initiative called IU2K (Illinois Universal 2K) as part of the national U2K to enact universal health care this decade. Also, CBHC worked with children health coalitions to expand KidCare and surveyed 700 parents across the state to assess their children's access to health care services. In 2001, CBHC hosted town hall meetings for downstate Illinois to provide community input to the Illinois' Oral Health Plan and began working with the Illinois Dental Hygienists Association to move legislation to ease supervision restrictions. CBHC also supported the effort to stop the closure of City of Chicago Public Health clinics.

Accomplishments/Activities 2000's[edit]

CBHC developed and implemented the Health Care Justice Act with then state Senator Obama (chief sponsor) and state Rep. William Delgado (chief sponsor) in 2002 and worked with Provena Behavioral Health to improve access to mental health services through their new Open Clinic. In the same year CBHC Executive Director Jim Duffett was recognized as the Health Care Activist of the Year by Families USA, a national leader in health care advocacy. Also, CBHC coordinated the Illinois effort for the national Health Care Access Resolution Campaign (House Concurrent Resolution 99), recruited statewide organizational endorsement, added legislative cosponsors, lead Illinois in the National Call-in Day for Universal Health Care for the public launch of this campaign, and initiated the Illinois Health Care Accountability Act of 2002.

In 2003, CBHC initiated with then Senator Barack Obama public hearings around Illinois regarding universal health care. CBHC also launched the Health Care Justice Campaign (HCJC) to broaden the fight for accessible, affordable, quality health care for all Illinois residents, passed legislation for health care for all Illinoisans (HB 1984) out of the Illinois House of Representatives, and developed an educational video of testimonies from uninsured people and practicing doctors advocating for health care reform.

In the next two years, the Health Care Justice Act of 2004 passes in the Senate with bipartisan support in the House, and the Governor signs the Health Care Justice Act into law. Also, CBHC secured over 1 million dollars to fund the HCJA, appointed the Executive Director to serve on the Health Care Justice Act's Adequate Health Care Task Force, and mobilized 300 people to testify and 2500 people to participate in 22 Health Care Justice Task Force public hearings (2005–2006). ALL Kids enactment plays a major role with national groups helping with the development of the plan and enactment in Illinois. In 2006, CBHC pushes for an Illinois plan similar to the public option under debate in 2009, and the Faith Caucus Reconvenes. CBHC set up Congressional District Committees across Illinois in 2007 and worked to pass the Illinois Covered Health Care Plan in the face of a split Democratic Party and strong Republican opposition. Three major components of the Adequate Health Care Task Force/Illinois Covered Plan passed the Senate but stall in the House in 2008, and CBHC fights to preserve the Family Care program.

Just this past year, the Faith Caucus organizeed over 200 congregations across Illinois for the Health Care Sabbath, 50,000+ Illinois parishioners sound the Alarm for Health Care Justice, and CBHC’s maximum effort is focused on passing the public option and national health insurance reform.


Currently, Campaign for Better Health Care also collects stories shared by callers to its helpline, a source of information for individuals seeking affordable health care. CBHC focuses on collecting stories pertaining to rapidly increasing insurance premiums, high deductible plans, and difficulties using Medicare Part D. These stories are used to assist CBHC in the fight to enact quality health care for all. CBHC has and continues to launch numerous campaigns and grassroots activities around Illinois advocating for a robust public option.

National Health Care Reform[edit]

In 2009, President Obama signaled to Congress that he wanted to pass health care reform for all Americans. Campaign for Better Health Care held press conferences, rallies, and educational events all around Illinois to help pass health care reform. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, guaranteeing affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Americans. Now CBHC will be working to implement and improve health care reform for everyone in Illinois.


External links[edit]