Vermont Passes Single Payer

The Vermont Workers Center/ Jobs with Justice (VWC ) grew out of a grassroots livable wage campaign in central Vermont. Since 1998, when the VWC was started, we’ve organized support for union contract and right-to-organize campaigns at over one hundred workplaces across the state.

Two years ago, based on the growing need for systemic healthcare reform reflected in calls to our workers’ rights hotline, discussions with our members and affiliates, and in increasingly difficult collective bargaining over the rising the costs of health insurance, we decided to prioritize organizing a multi-year Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign. We have had considerable success in organizing a strong grassroots social movement that has engaged thousands of Vermonters. We have built a statewide network of organizing committees in every county, and have a real chance to pass ground-breaking legislation. We are building for a huge rally on Saturday, May 1st at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

With the national healthcare reform movement derailed for the time being, it is clear that a real solution to our healthcare crisis must come from the states, and we believe that Vermont can be the first state to enact a single-payer system that guarantees the human right to healthcare. We say this recognizing that, even in Vermont with a viable third party (the Progressive Party), we lack a proper political vehicle for radical reform. We will see whether a mobilized social movement with significant union support can break the political and economic barriers that deny the human right to healthcare.

--Traven, for the Vermont Workers Center

Important Victory! Vermont Senate Passed S.88!

On Wednesday, April 7, the Vermont Senate passed S.88 by an overwhelming majority of 28-2. Passage of this bill by the Senate is a major step toward recognizing the human right to healthcare in Vermont and is an important victory for the "Healthcare Is A Human Right" Campaign. The bill calls for the hiring of consultants to design three health care models, one of which must be a single payer system that is administered by government, publicly financed and decoupled from employment. All three of the models must meet the Healthcare is a Human Right principles of universal access and coverage, be comprehensive and affordable, be transparent in design and must ensure public participation in the design, implementation, evaluation, and accountability. The designs also have to include implementation timelines beginning no later than July, 2012.

The "Health Care Is A Human" right campaign has fought to have the right to healthcare as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enacted in state law since it started almost two years ago. At the time of the Campaign's launch, the notion that Vermont should provide healthcare to every citizen regardless of their ability to pay was brushed off by many politicians as "not politically possible". The Campaign has since turned this doubt into a big victory Wednesday on the Senate floor through its massive grassroots organizing campaign. In fact, the improved S.88 "Healthy Vermont" Bill adopted languages and frameworks that the "Health Care Is A Human Right" Campaign has been instrumental in developing.

Jake Williams, a Vermont Workers Center staff member from Brattleboro says that "the bill passed 28-2 thanks to the hard work of Vermonters who called their legislators, wrote to their local papers in support of the bill, came to Montpelier to give testimony on the importance of healthcare reform, and helped spread the word about the campaign in their communities." He adds that "now, we are one big step closer to enacting a system where healthcare is recognized as a human right. This never would have happened without the help of our supporters and our communities."

"We thank our Senators for their votes, and now look to their fellow legislators in the House to do the right thing" says Peg Franzen, Policy Committee Chair for the Campaign. The Campaign is currently gearing up for a huge May 1st Rally at the Statehouse, which has been billed as the largest rally of its kind in Vermont's history. The main purpose of the rally is to celebrate the Campaign's achievements so far, to keep building the momentum for universal single-payer healthcare, and to keep the pressure on the House of Representatives.

For a full analysis of the just-passed S88 and more information on the campaign, please visit the Campaign's website at www.workerscenter.org/healthcare. The "Healthcare Is A Human Right" Campaign also has local leaders and organizers spread throughout the state in every community and they are available for interviews by any news organization.

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