Ben & Jerry Scoop for Health Care

Ben & Jerry Scoop for Health Care

Two of Vermont’s most famous businessmen were scooping ice cream in Rutland Sunday to support universal health care.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, were dishing out some of their favorite flavors at a benefit for the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign held at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

‘It seems like of all the things government does, looking out for the health of its citizens makes the most sense,’ Cohen told a gathering of about 30 people inside the West Street church.

‘I believe not only is it so incredibly important but it’s possible it could happen,’ Greenfield said.

The pair was the most high-profile supporters on-hand for a rally designed to inspire a grassroots push for universal health care in Vermont.

‘We want to make sure the Legislature hears from you folks and people from around the state who support a rational, moral system for how we can take care of each other,’ said James Haslam, director of Vermont Workers’ Center.

Universal health care bills presented to the Legislature have failed to find traction in the past. But Haslam and other organizers said they’re hopeful that the coming session will be different due largely to the election of Gov. Peter Shumlin who has espoused his support for universal care.

But in the wake of a national debate on health care that ended short of wholesale changes, supporter of a universal system said they expect opposition to their efforts.

‘It is not going to be easy,’ said Bela Schug, a member of the Rutland County Organizing Committee for the health care campaign. ‘Insurance and pharmaceutical companies are prepared to spend big money spreading fear and misinformation to scare people away.’