Honoring a Giant of our Health Care Movement

Keynote speaker Wendell Potter.
Photo by Darral Freund

Health Care for All Colorado was proud to sponsor The Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care’s 4th Annual Universal Health Care Conference which took place on June 29th, 2019 at Pipefitters Union Hall.

With a fitting theme of “Think Universal, Act Local: Preparing the Colorado Movement for 2020” the conference included a keynote speech from Wendell Potter, a former corporate communications exec for Cigna.

After seeing one too many people taken advantage of by the industry he was paid to protect, Potter now works to debunk health care industry lies and awaken voters to wield their power. He shared powerful insights, which are also featured in his book, "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans,” A New York Times bestseller. For  those who missed the conference, you can view a Facebook Live recording of an interview with Potter at the event.

Donna Smith, HCAC Foundation board member and Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America.
Photo by Darral Freund.

Health care activists from across Colorado gathered to learn hands-on approaches to advocating for universal health care, including workshops on Coalition Building and Grassroots Organizing; Self-care for Activists; Health Care Cost Savings Act Next Steps; and Engaging Elected Officials - all to lay the groundwork for action through 2020.

As partner sponsors, Health Care for All Colorado tabled and spoke to activists from across the state. Board member and Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America, Donna Smith, updated the audience on the work of HCAC and urged people to get involved and stay committed. 

State Senators Irene Aguilar, MD and Jeanne Nicholson, RN, MS, a new board member at HCAC, announced the conference dedication to Lyn Gullette, who led the citizen’s initiative to get ColoradoCare on the 2016 ballot. The Foundation also recognized Josie Health, Sen. Dorothy Rupert and HCAC founder Elinor Christiansen, MD with the “On the Shoulders of Giants” award. 

Elinor Christiansen, MD receives an “On the Shoulders of Giants” award from HCAC Advocacy board member Ranger Miller.
Photo by Darral Freund.

Dr. Christiansen has a rich legacy as a generous supporter and advocate for universal health care. Born in Peking, China to Lois Pendleton Todd, M.D, a missionary surgeon serving the rural areas of the country, Dr. Christiansen was instilled with the call to serve from the very moment she was born. Elinor even wrote a biography of her mother, titled “Doctor Lois: Woman Surgeon of China.” 

Dr. Christiansen earned her MD in 1955 from Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A 12-month rotating internship at White Cross Hospital in Columbus, Ohio prepared her for full time responsibilities as GP in private practice. Customary office fees in Ohio in 1956 were $3 per office visit, whether 20 minutes or an hour, and $5 per house call, regardless of mileage. The nearest hospital in Newark, Ohio had no house staff or technicians, so as an admitting physician she “did it all,” including IV’s, catheters, delivering babies, and assisting the surgeon if her patient needed surgery. 

After several educational trips to countries with single payer universal health care, Elinor was eager to learn the various ways different countries fund, govern, and deliver universal health care. In 1992, she founded Health Care for All Colorado, with the goal of achieving single payer universal health care for all residents of Colorado. 

We are honored to continue the rich legacy and passion for change that Elinor laid the blueprint for. Join us in congratulating her for all her achievements, with many more to come. 

Begin or renew your membership with Health Care for All Colorado TODAY! We are committed to continuing the fight in Colorado and honoring the work of Dr. Elinor Christiansen, her mother Lois, and so many other health care advocates.



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