Report from Statehouse - Week 4 of Legislative Session: January 24-29

The People's Team continued to monitor the Health Committees. The meetings are dominated by Administration staff and paid lobbyists. There is little or no time reserved for real testimony from real people and people who can lead the way for systemic change.

That is why our campaign is so important. We must step up our efforts to connect with our legislators. The legislators will not get the political will or realize it is politically possible unless they hear from us.

Cost containment and global hospital budgeting dominated the hearings. The Douglas Administration’s staff defended the Douglas’s budget proposals that will impact the most vulnerable of our citizens the most. There were at least 4 high paid staff members in each hearing.

Two of the services that will be significantly impacted are Catamount which will see a huge increase in the premiums and deductibles and force people to drop out of coverage and the Free Clinics with their money from the state being cut in half while the need for their services are growing at an alarming rate,

We have been asking to testify and had kept being told that it wasn't time yet but finally on the 29th we got our chance.

Friday, the 29th was busy. Early in the morning we met with Senator Doug. Racine and presented our proposal of a blended bill that would if adopted move us toward our goals. He said he needed time to review it and would get back to us soon. We are hoping that his committee, the Senate Health Committee, will take the lead in moving our proposal forward.

At noontime, we held a joint press conference with the nurses and allied health professionals. The speakers included Jen Henry, Sue Lucas, Mari Cordes, by phone from Haiti, Dawn Griffis, a retired nurse who grew up in Britain and Dr. Marvin Malek. They all spoke to how broken our "system" is and urged legislators to move to a system of care that embodies the principle of our Health Care a Human Right campaign.

Then at 2pm, David Kreindler, one of our Policy Team leaders, presented our testimony before the joint Health committees (read our testimony here). The testimony included a review of the principals of the Healthcare As A Human Right campaign and our proposal for how the legislature can move forward using S88 as a framework and taking sections from other bills that are being considered. The members were impressed with the work that was presented and asked us to send them copies.