Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign Testifies on Vermont Healthcare Bill


Vermont’s Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign delivered its testimony on Governor Shumlin’s healthcare reform bill (H.202) at a hearing of the Health Committee of the House of Representatives.

Excerpts from the testimony:
[…] Our detailed human rights analysis of H.202 has led us to the conclusion that this bill will need some changes if it is to result in a healthcare system that is universal, equitable, transparent and accountable to the people of Vermont.

[…] We strongly urge you to improve the bill in the following five key ways. (You can think of these as putting snow tires on the vehicle, to make sure it gets us to where we want to go.)

  1. The primary goal of a healthcare system must be to preserve and protect health and therefore to provide healthcare as a public good. Controlling the system’s costs is a means to that end, but H.202 currently has these goals reversed by prioritizing cost containment.
  2. The principles expressed in the bill must become the guiding, mandatory and enforceable operational rules of the healthcare system that it creates.
  3. The legislation passed this year must establish our new healthcare system, not merely create a federally-mandated health insurance exchange.
  4. Our healthcare system must be designed to work as independently as possible of decisions by the federal government over which we have no control.
  5. The bill should lay out a concrete and detailed plan for establishing a state-based universal healthcare system that starts enrolling Vermonters at the earliest possible date. Access to care for Vermonters must not be delayed to coincide with, or depend upon, potential federal funding, but should be made possible through equitable, public financing from the state.

[…] We all agree that merely adopting the requirements of the ACA will not result in a healthcare system that is universal, equitable, transparent and accountable to the people of Vermont. With H.202, the Vermont legislature has an opportunity to move beyond a market-based healthcare system to one that satisfies the needs of Vermonters. While there may be some loud voices of opposition, the vast majority of Vermonters support moving in this direction.

To accomplish our goal, H.202 needs changes. Those changes must be guided by our human rights obligations to each other, to our community, to every Vermonter. What some see only as a financial crisis is primarily a deeply human crisis, causing needless human suffering. We know that you are committed, as we are, to ending this crisis. We are confident that you can make these changes to H.202, and we are committed to working with you to do so.

Download the full testimony below. 

UPDATE: On February 28, President Obama announced "his support for accelerating State Innovation Waivers and for allowing states to apply for them starting in 2014." Vermont’s Govenor Shumlin welcomed the news: "That is so critical to our efforts." A waiver would allow Vermont to create a single payer system instead of implementing the provisions of the largely marked-based federal health reform.

Download the detailed human rights assessment of H.202 here.

Download a summary chart of the assessment here.

Read the bill (H.202) here.