RELEASE: Vermont residents burn healthcare bills, rally at statehouse denouncing Governor’s failure to act on universal healthcare

For Immediate Release: December 18 2014

Contact: Keith Brunner, 802-363-9615

Vermont residents burn healthcare bills, rally at statehouse and Green Mountain Care Board denouncing Governor’s failure to act on universal healthcare

Montpelier -- Today, over 100 supporters of the Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign rallied and burned their medical bills in front of the Vermont statehouse, denouncing Governor Shumlin for abandoning his support for universal, publicly financed healthcare [1].  One by one, residents told stories about not getting the care they need or about healthcare debt, then lit their bills on fire.

“Time and again I’m forced to choose whether to meet my medical needs or pay other bills,” said Stauch Blaise, a resident of Randolph, Vermont. “Just last week I had to forgo care for my foot because of my deductible and co-pays. Governor Shumlin has burned all of us by bailing on universal healthcare, and now it’s time for the legislature to assume leadership and follow through with Act 48.”

Demonstrators then entered the statehouse and ascended to the Governor’s office on the second floor.  With a crowd surrounding her, Burlington resident Kate Kanelstein symbolically delivered a platter of toast to the Governor, stating “Governor Shumlin, If you burn us, the people who’ve stood behind your leadership on healthcare year after year, you should understand that your political career is toast.”  

The crowd then marched to the Green Mountain Care Board meeting, which today was planning on hearing a proposal from the Shumlin administration on covered health services and cost-sharing in the new universal system.  The Governor did not show up, but dozens of people did, entering the room while singing, and interrupting the proceedings by asking the board if they would follow through with Act 48 despite Governor Shumlin’s unilateral decision to pull the plug on universal healthcare.

Sierra Klotz, who's studying to be a healthcare provider, called on the Green Mountain Care Board to “move forward with a universal single-payer healthcare system,” while participant after participant reiterated that healthcare is a human right, and the government has an obligation to ensure that right is met by providing universal care to all Vermont residents in an equitable way.

Supporters of the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign will once again return to the statehouse on January 8th for a rally and mass action, calling on the Legislature to assume a leadership role in moving forward with a universal, publicly financed healthcare system for Vermont.

**Photos available by request.**

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

1] Yesterday, Governor Shumlin unilaterally announced he would cease to move forward on universal healthcare for Vermont -- See the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign’s response here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/release-healthcare-human-right-campaign-responds-shumlin-s-failure-act-universal-healthcare