Montana County Moves Toward Universal Health Care Based on Human Rights

The City-County Board of Health in Lewis & Clark County, Montana, has adopted a resolution that recognizes the human right to health and health care and commits the country to develop a universal health care system:

From the Board of Health’s Resolution, adopted December 4, 2008:

"NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Health of Lewis and Clark County also hereby recognizes that health and health care are basic human rights, such that everyone has a right to access to a universal healthcare system, with corresponding local, state and national government responsibilities, and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Health of Lewis and Clark County shall appoint a Task Force on Local Access to Universal Healthcare […]"

The Montana Human Rights Network and the NESRI’s Human Right to Health Program are advising the Board of Health on this initiative, which sets up a two-year task force to develop a needs assessment and action plan.

From an article in the Helena Independent Record, 12/12/08:

Members of Helena’s city-county Health Board say they’re tired of waiting for national health-care reform, and are launching their own project to provide health care to all citizens in the area. The Lewis and Clark City-County Health Board approved a resolution last week that says health care is a “basic human right” and that all citizens have “a right to access to a universal health care system.”

The next step is to appoint a task force that will assess the health care needs in the county and Helena metro area, where thousands of people are without health insurance. Then, the board will try to design some sort of plan or system that provides universal health care for the area.
The board’s effort appears to be the only one of its type in the state, and possibly the region, said Alan Peura, a Helena city commissioner and board member who helped spearhead the project. “Starting with health care as a human right, we thought maybe we can get to places that we never got to before,” he said Thursday. “We said, ‘Let’s see what we can do to change the debate, and maybe end up with some solutions that we don’t even know exist at this point.’ ”
The board has been working with the Montana Human Rights Network and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, which hopes to help the board secure grant funding to finance the needs assessment.
State Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena, the executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, also said it could become a pilot project with federal funding, to offer universal health care in a rural county. “Our goal is that everyone in Lewis and Clark County has access to health care,” she said.

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