Press Release - Vermont Universal Healthcare Bill Becomes Law

VERMONT WORKERS’ CENTER - HEALTHCARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT CAMPAIGN

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Tuesday May 27th 2010***
Contact: James Haslam, (802) 272 0882, james@workerscenter.org

VERMONT UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE BILL BECOMES LAW

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Governor Jim Douglas announced on Thursday May 27th that he would not veto S.88, the "Universal Access to Healthcare Act". The bill requires the state to establish a universal healthcare system based on human rights principles. Earlier, passage of this bill by the Vermont Legislature came a week after U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders joined over fifteen hundred Vermonters at a "Healthcare is a Human Right" rally at Vermont's Statehouse, urging the state to pass this bill.

This past Sunday, the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus - Vermont's second and third largest newspapers - issued editorials aimed at Douglas, pushing for the new law to go into effect. The editorials acknowledge the "Healthcare Is A Human Right" Campaign's leading effort, saying that "the success of the Legislature in passing its health care bill this year is due in large part to the extraordinary grass-roots campaign spearheaded by the Vermont Workers' Center." They further praised the Campaign, stating that this year it "became the kind of effective effort at grass-roots organizing and political activism we have seen before with the campaign for marriage equality. The campaign created a mandate that legislators employed to take a step closer to comprehensive health care reform." Both newspapers called for Vermont to "become a laboratory for progress on health care that will serve as a model to the nation."

The Campaign involved thousands of Vermonters from all around the state in a grassroots effort pushing for a comprehensive redesign of the state's healthcare system around human rights principles. The new law calls for the hiring of consultants to design three universal health care plans for implementation in Vermont. One of these plans must be a single-payer system that is publicly financed and publicly administered and is completely decoupled from employment. Another is a public option. All three plans must meet the "Healthcare is a Human Right" standards. The plans must be submitted to the legislature in January 2011, which will adopt one of the designs for implementation to begin no later than July 2012.

"This victory was a result of a growing grassroots movement for our basic human rights," said James Haslam, Director of the Vermont Workers’ Center. "What we want is really simple: a healthcare system that makes our human right to healthcare a reality in Vermont and that puts healthcare dollars into actual healthcare services, not into profits, marketing, or administration. We need a plan for how a state can go from a wasteful market-based system to a simple, rational system that protects everyone's health." Haslam believes Federal reform has failed to provide such a plan and added that "there are more battles ahead, but this victory was a necessary step to winning healthcare for all."

More information is available at www.healthcareisahumanright.org

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