Since 2008, the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign has been building a movement for a universal, publicly financed healthcare system in which all care in Vermont would be provided as a public good, like our schools and fire departments. We believe that universal healthcare is about more than just our health - it is also a prescription for economic transformation, budget and tax reform, and strengthening the public sector.
In order to achieve these goals, however, our healthcare system must be financed equitably through progressive taxes, in which people contribute what they can and get what they need. This commitment to fairness and equity in financing is enshrined as a core principle in Act 48, Vermont’s universal healthcare law.
Right now, the Vermont House and Senate are discussing bills, H.248 and S.53, that would establish a universal, publicly financed primary care system. These bills seek to establish a fund but do not specify how we would pay for the program, instead tasking the Joint Fiscal Office with producing three tax financing proposals by October, which would then be discussed and decided upon by the legislature.
The Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign believes that universal primary care could be an important step towards the goal of a universal healthcare system, insofar as it is financed fully and equitably through progressive taxes. We fear that failure to specify an equitable financing mechanism in these bills leaves the door open for a system that is only partially or regressively financed, which would be a setback for our communities.
Our movement to win healthcare as a human right cannot afford to compromise on equity. We will continue to track these bills as they move forward, and encourage our partners to ensure that universal primary care is a firm step forward in the right direction. In this context of growing attacks on workers, poor people, immigrants, and vulnerable people in our communities, the time calls for us to lead with a bold vision for social transformation - a world in which our fundamental human needs are guaranteed as human rights for all of us.