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August 14, 2009

In Memory of Nick Skala, Former GTW Intern

The following comes from former GTW policy analyst Mary Bottari, the member of our team who worked most closely with Nick.

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share with you how shocked and incredibly saddened I was to learn that former GTW intern and Northwestern law student Nick Skala died in his sleep over the weekend at the home of his good friend and mentor Dr. Quentin Young. In his 27 years, Nick made quite an impact, especially publicizing and organizing around the issue of single payer health care. As the Research Director for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), he contributed to many of their research projects including the groudbreaking study demonstrating that the vast majority of American bankruptcies are due to health care costs.

When he applied to GTW, Daphne and I interviewed him and decided to hire him immediately. He started last summer, then had to leave DC to return to Chicago because the Illinois Speaker decided to put the single payer bill he had been working on to a vote. He continued to work with me while working the bill. He knew a boatload about the insurance industry and quite a bit about banking too. Over the summer, he educated me about how the insurance industry and the reinsurance industry were regulated by states and did some quick letters and memos that helped us stall a vote on a bill that would have allowed the Department of the Treasury to preempt prudential state insurance regulations, due solely to trade concerns.

He quickly grasped the rules of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and even the GATS financial services agreement and wrote a series of memos on related topics, including the WTO legality of the Obama health plan. When he returned to law school, he decided to pursue the complex WTO issues by taking a business law class and critiquing the economic reform proposals put forward by progressive economist Nouriel Roubinis from a GATS perspective. He got an A from his law professor, and a hedge fund manager who reviewed the paper later called him up to grill him on the WTO and how the rules might be useful to their firm...! I was fortunate enough to see him a few weeks ago and hear about his exciting summer internship with the House Judiciary Committee. He had the plum assignment of reading and cataloging Karl Rove's emails. In his free time, he helped the single payer advocates organize their effective protests and strategies on the hill.

He was brilliant, inventive, inexhaustible and the world is a better place for his efforts. I hope folks will consider making a donation to PNHP in his honor.

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Comments

Mel Nobili

I was Nick's best friend, and I know it's been years since this was posted, but despite my numerous and frequent searches for him, this is the first time I've read this. I'm happy to hear, once again, such lovely things said about him. Even after all this time, his death continues to be leave a huge hole in my life, and I know that it has damaged the Single Payer movement. He WAS inexhaustible, and the most brilliant person I've ever met. I miss him terribly. Thank you for the kind words about him.

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