Press Release: Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign Welcomes Conference Committee Reconciliation of H.202

Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign Welcomes Conference Committee Reconciliation of H.202
Principle of Universality Restored Through the Efforts of Vermonters

Montpelier, VT -- Statehouse -- Members of the grassroots Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign cheered on Tuesday, May 3, as the conference committee voted to accept a reconciled version of the universal healthcare bill, H.202.

“This is a huge victory for our state, and it only happened because of the thousands of Vermonters who have been working together to make their voices heard and demand action,” said Peg Franzen, President of the Vermont Workers’ Center, which launched the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign in 2008 to change what is politically possible in healthcare reform.

One of the most important issues arose at the last minute, just before the Senate’s passage of its version of H.202. The so-called “Brock-Sears” amendment would have excluded undocumented people from participating in Vermont’s future healthcare system, Green Mountain Care. That exclusion directly conflicts with the fundamental human-rights principle of universality and constituted a “line-in-the-sand” issue for the campaign.

On Monday, while the conference committee met, dozens of activists maintained a presence in the Statehouse, staying into the night as the committee deliberated, making it clear to the conferees that Vermonters expected them to do the right thing. Many other activists made phone calls and sent emails, explaining to their representatives that “universal” must mean everyone.

On Monday night leaders of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign from Bennington spoke to Senator Dick Sears, who agreed to withdraw his support for the amendment and even to introduce a resolution calling for federal immigration reform.

In the end, the conference committee did the right thing and removed the hurtful amendment. It was replaced by a requirement that the administration study the effects, both positive and negative, of providing care to undocumented residents.

“The long history of Vermonters demanding justice could have ended yesterday, but it didn’t. Instead, we have affirmed that Vermonters want their representatives in Montpelier to support equity and universality. We’re in this together, and hundreds of people from all over the state showed that by making phone calls and showing up at the Statehouse -- the people’s house,” said Franzen.

A 4 minute video update from the campaign can be viewed at www.workerscenter.org/peoplesstruggle

Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign leaders are available all across the state for interview or comment.