BURLINGTON - On October 16, leaders of the Vermont Workers' Center and United Professionals of Vermont/AFT, including nurses from Fletcher Allen, met with Vermont State Senator Doug Racine, who is chair of the Vermont Senate Health & Welfare Committee about the goals of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign to take action on single-payer legislation H.100 and S.88. (Links are to .pdf files of each bill.)
The next day, Senator Racine referred to this meeting when he and a number of other candidates spoke at the Vermont AFL-CIO convention (see report from convention where they passed a resolution supporting the campaign).
"I've been working on healthcare. I've been working to reduce the cost of healthcare and find ways to extend healthcare to all Vermonters. I think it's time we recognize, as many of you do - I was talking to Ben [UPV/AFT leader, Ben Johnson] and others the other day - in a country as wealthy as we are, I think we should be recognizing healthcare as a basic human right. We can afford to do this. It's really a question of priorities, and it's not happening in Washington right now for a lot of reasons, but it can happen here in Vermont. I heard you talking a few minutes ago - Marvin [Dr. Marvin Malek] and others - about S.88.
I made a commitment the other day with Ben and the folks I was talking with. I am chair the Health and Welfare Committee. We're going to take that up. It's going to be our starting point, to say how can we do this? How can we work with the federal government to make universal access, single-payer, a reality in the state of Vermont?
I'm going to tell you, it's not going to be easy. There are a lot of tough questions to be answered. There are a lot of tough issues to work out, but we aren't going to work it out if we don't start, and we're going to be starting on this in January."
We are very excited to see Senator Racine commit to helping lead the effort to make healthcare a basic right for all. Another Chittenden County People's Forum on Healthcare has now been scheduled for December 1st with Sen. Racine and other legislators who missed the October 1st Forum in Burlington. We are especially looking for folks who live in Addison County and Lamoille County to help us plan a People's Forum in these areas. Please email james [at] workerscenter.org if you can help out.