December 2, 2009
COLCHESTER - Tuesday evening at the Vermont Workers’ Center’s second Chittenden County People’s Forum on Healthcare held at St. Michael's College, Senator Doug Racine, chair of the Senate’s health and welfare committee, announced that his committee will begin holding hearings on S.88, the bill that, with its House companion, H.100, will put Vermont on the road to enacting healthcare as a human right.
“Healthcare is the most basic of human rights,” said Racine, who has scheduled the first public hearing — to be held jointly with the House health care committee — for January 12, exactly one week after the start of the 2010 legislative session.
Racine’s choice of Tuesday’s Healthcare Is a Human Right forum for the announcement was seen by many as recognition of the success of the Vermont Workers’ Center’s state-wide, grass-roots campaign at putting pressure on the Vermont legislature to enact healthcare-reform legislation that embodies human-rights principles.
"We now have organizing committees state-wide and we have been working with a number of other organizations to build a grassroots network capable of changing what is politically possible for healthcare reform in Vermont. It is clear that these efforts are pushing things in the right direction. We hope other Vermont elected officials will join Senator Racine as champions to make this moral shift to make healthcare a public good for everybody," said James Haslam, Director of the Vermont Workers' Center.
Six other state legislators participated in the forum, which was the eighth of its kind the Workers' Center has held this Fall with a total of 70 state legislators and over 800 total participants. The event included testimony from area residents about their experiences with the broken healthcare system and a presentation on the principles and goals of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign.
On January 6, the first working day of the 2010 legislative session, the Workers’ Center plans to solidify this position by delivering thousands of postcards demanding healthcare as a human right that Vermonters from around the State have signed to the legislative leadership.
“Vermont can lead the way. Where Congress has failed to stand up to the corrupting influence of powerful interests vested in the unsustainable healthcare status quo, Vermont will succeed,” said Bekah Mandell, the facilitator of the People's Forum and a leader of the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign. “Ordinary Vermonters will continue to put pressure on their elected representatives until we win this fundamental human right. It is clear to us, now, that we can win, and we will win.”
The next People's Forum on Healthcare is scheduled for Lamoille County at 7 P.M. on December 17th at the River Arts Center in Morrisville, where House Speaker Shap Smith and other state legislators are expected to participate.