Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign

Support Health Care Now

The Vermont Breakthrough! How a Human Rights Movement Is Winning a Healthcare System that Puts People First

TAKE ACTION: Support the Statehouse 29 today!

Since 2008, the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign has been organizing to make publicly-financed, universal healthcare a reality in Vermont. In 2011, our people’s movement succeeded in getting a groundbreaking law passed: Act 48, which commits Vermont to providing healthcare as a public good and ensuring everyone can get the healthcare they need, when they need it.

However, after repeated delays, in December 2014 governor Peter Shumlin announced he would no longer pursue public financing for Green Mountain Care -- despite Act 48 committing the state to do so. The governor's decision was political, not economic, revealing powerful opposition to universal healthcare from big businesses and his wealthy allies.

When Governor Shumlin first made his surprise announcement on December 17, 2014, we responded immediately with a statement and op-ed, submitted a public records request for release of all data, and starting preparing our own proposal for equitable financing. We mobilized members and supporters in Vermont and nationally in preparation for a day of action at the State House on the day after the announcement.

Bolstered by a national letter of support signed by 70 organizations, the HCHR campaign turned out in force on inauguration day, January 8, for a powerful rally inside the State House, which culminated in a sit-in on the floor of the House chamber and the arrest of 29 campaign members. This act of civil disobedience brought the ongoing health care crisis to the attention of elected officials and the media in a direct and visceral way (including coverage in Democracy Now! and Common Dreams).

Support came from all corners of the country: Rev. Dr. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, issued a letter of support and called on people of faith to join him, and Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, stated that “Health care is a human right and a public good, not a commodity. All communities, rich and poor, should have access to comprehensive, quality treatment and service. Amnesty International USA supports the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign in Vermont and urges full support for the residents of Vermont who are struggling to protect this right.” AIUSA was joined by other groups across the country, including the Southern Maine Workers’ Center, Put People First-PA and NESRI, in sending statements of support.

In the final days of January, we finally reached a turning point, and equitable financing topped the agenda of a joint hearing convened by the House and Senate Health Committees. The HCHR Campaign testified at the hearing, making the case for equitable income and payroll taxes to fund universal health care in a preview of its financing proposal. Legislators began to speak out in support, and potential legislative sponsors have come forward for a financing bill proposed by the HCHR Campaign.

On February 26, the HCHR Campaign released its own proposal for financing Green Mountain Care, endorsed by more than 100 economists and introduced as a bill in the legislature, H.475. We also released a short 3 minute video explaining the financing plan. In early March we launched our Healthcare Hotline after hearing story after story of people facing high costs through the exchanges. Over the next few months we'll be hosting community dialogues with our partner organizations, drawing connections between issues we're facing and preparing for an inspiring and historic May Day march on May 1st. 

Get involved! Here's how you can take action: