Market-based healthcare has led to tragedy in many Vermont communities: Vermonters stand up against scaremongering by healthcare profiteers

Market-based healthcare has led to tragedy in many Vermont communities: Vermonters stand up against scaremongering by healthcare profiteers

Montpelier, VT -- Statehouse -- Vermonters supporting the grassroots Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign are standing up against scaremongering from healthcare industry groups and are protesting the market-based system that has taken many lives. Hundreds of Vermonters participated in a March 14 statewide public hearing on Vermont’s new universal healthcare bill, H.202. The vast majority of the participants at the 15 Vermont Interactive Television sites throughout the state were members of the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign calling for a universal, publicly financed healthcare system.

“Through our grassroots campaign, thousands of Vermonters have spoken out for a universal healthcare system that starts enrolling Vermonters as soon as possible. This bill - H.202 - is a roadmap to tackling the human rights emergency caused by our market-based healthcare system. Together we can strengthen the bill by embedding human rights principles in every provision. This will help us to get as quickly as possible to the system we all want - a system that truly works for every Vermonter by making healthcare a public good,” said Vermont Workers’ Center president Peg Franzen.

The Campaign is pushing for improvements to the bill which was presented by the Shumlin Administration in February. In order to satisfy human rights standards (see the Detailed Human Rights Standards for Healthcare Systems, www.workerscenter.org/assessment), the Campaign’s written testimony on H.202 (http://www.workerscenter.org/node/752) calls for establishing a new universal healthcare system as soon as possible, rather than focusing on creating a federally-mandated health insurance exchange.
The Campaign and its grassroots supporters are protesting the well-funded pressure brought to the legislative debate by industry groups that seek to leave insurance companies in the drivers’ seat. When Wendell Potter, the former CIGNA executive turned industry whistleblower, came to Vermont in February, he predicted that Vermonters should expect a vigorous response from vested interests in the healthcare industry. He said that it was part of the industry’s playbook to finance the creation of a new group to create the appearance of grassroots opposition to universal healthcare. He said that such a group would likely be called “Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom” or “Vermonters For Freedom in Healthcare”.

“People in this country make a lot money off our health care needs, so we expected opposition from the healthcare profiteers. But the fact is that market-based healthcare leads to tragedy in our communities, where people do not get the care they need and die of curable conditions,” said Peg Franzen, president of the Vermont Workers’ Center, who launched the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign in 2008. “We can no longer tolerate or afford market forces that treat healthcare as a commodity. We need to have all of our healthcare dollars going to the healthcare services our communities need to stay healthy.”

“We knew the attack of the healthcare profiteers would be coming,” said James Haslam, Vermont Workers’ Center director and lead organizer of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign. “The health insurance industry sees us as a threat of creating a universal system that works that will help lead to people doing the same in other states and ultimately a national universal healthcare system.
Wendell Potter was in Vermont on February 25-26 promoting his new book “DEADLY SPIN: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans” (see: http://wendellpotter.com/deadlyspin/).

The “Detailed Human Rights Standards for Healthcare Systems” are available at www.workerscenter.org/assessment

For more background on the campaign, please contact James Haslam or Peg Franzen, or go to www.workerscenter.org/healthcare.
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