Doctors diagnosed Jerry Skweres' adult son with leukemia on a Friday. By Monday, he was in treatment - a quick turnaround the Schaumburg man credits with putting the cancer into remission.
"I think we have the best health care system in the world," Skweres said. "The system wouldn't have moved nearly that fast if the government ran it."
On Saturday, Skweres joined about 200 people outside U.S. Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean's Schaumburg office, the site of one of hundreds of "recess rallies" held in Illinois and across the country to oppose President Barack Obama's proposed health care reform. Nearly that many gathered outside Democratic Congressmen Bill Foster's Batavia office.
Among the protesters was Barrington resident Chris Borland, who donned Revolutionary War era-style garb. She strongly opposes the government-run health care option in Obama's plan and instead favors more moderate reform targeting Tort laws, the tax structure and the ability to shop all insurance companies.
"We have a history of poorly-run, overpriced government programs and all this plan will do is create confusion, chaos and more bureaucracy," Borland said.
Dozens of counter protesters attended the rally in Schaumburg and aside from a few shouting matches and a gaper-related fender bender on Woodfield Drive, the event remained civil and produced healthy debate between both sides.
Small business owner Dan Sherry, who says his high cholesterol makes him a walking time bomb, fears life without a government-run option. If the Barrington man suffers a fatal heart attack, a life insurance policy will protect his wife and three children. Should the heart attack simply debilitate him, Sherry, who's uninsured, is certain his family will lose their home and company.
"I actually spoke to a lawyer about a divorce because it's the only way to protect my family should I get sick," said Sherry, whose health insurance company canceled his coverage a few years ago after a missed payment. "I can't afford coverage because of my existing condition. We need another choice."
Saturday's protests come as many people are questioning why their local representatives have not scheduled town hall meetings to discuss health care during the current Congressional break. Nationally, such forums have turned confrontational and few have been scheduled in the Chicago region.
Some protesters, like Karen Fisher of Huntley, had never protested anything but felt strongly enough to take time out of their day.
"Everybody is having town meetings, but not Bill Foster. I've been calling for three weeks," she said, holding a sign that said "Universal Nightmare." "I think it will be a disaster for the country. We can't afford it. We can't understand it. ... I do believe it could be Armageddon for this country. There's no turning back (if this is passed)."
Bean, who has not yet decided whether she supports Obama's plan, conducted a teleconference on Wednesday night that drew more than 4,000 listeners. And on Monday, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park, who is opposed to Obama's plan, has scheduled a town-hall meeting on the issue at 3 p.m. at Arlington Heights village hall, 33 S. Arlington Heights Road.
The Schaumburg gathering also attracted several people from the LaRouche political action committee, which compares Obama's plan to the Nazis.