Democrat Joyce Washington tours OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.
By CHUCK SWEENY‚ Rockford Register Star
ROCKFORD — Joyce Washington says the U.S. Senate needs more health care professionals and fewer lawyers and millionaires.
The registered nurse, who has managed health care systems in the Chicago area, is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2004 Senate race.
Washington came to Rockford on Tuesday as part of a campaign swing through Illinois. She toured OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and met with Democratic Party precinct committeemen.
While Washington does not favor a single, national health care system, such as Canada’s, she does want to improve services to the poor.
"We need to expand Medicare and Medicaid; we need a prescription drug plan," Washington said.
She also wants to help small businesses, which she defined as any firm with fewer than 100 employees, by subsidizing a portion of their workers' health insurance expenses.
Washington of Chicago was appointed by governors George Ryan, Jim Edgar and James Thompson during their terms to serve on the Illinois Health Services Facilities Planning Board, which helps determine future health-care needs.
Washington also chaired Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Health Care Advisory Task Force.
Washington joins a growing list of Democrats who want to become senator. Others include state Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, State Comptroller Dan Hynes and multimillionaire Blair Hull.
Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Inverness, is not seeking re-election. Several Republicans are expected to declare their candidacy in the wake of Edgar’s decision not to run.