In Vermont, Health Care for All Nears Reality

Associated Press — Accustomed to being the first to dip its toe into hot-button issues, Vermont is preparing to provide public health care to all residents regardless of income, moving toward a government-run system that will take it as close to Canada philosophically as it is geographically.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to sign legislation this month marking the first step on the path to phasing out most private insurance. The effort puts Vermont well in front of last year’s federal health care overhaul.

The ultimate goal, Shumlin said recently, is a Canadian-style system "where health care is a right and not a privilege."

[…] Vermont’s turn toward universal care comes as more than two dozen states have gone in the opposite direction, suing to overturn the federal law. The U.S. House last week voted to strip federal funding from key parts of it, though that move is expected to die in the Senate.

[…] Advocates for changing the system brought hundreds of people […] to hearings and rallies at the Statehouse last year and again this spring.

James Haslam of the Vermont Workers Center, which spearheaded a campaign under the banner "Health Care Is A Human Right," said the legislation wouldn’t have passed without the grass-roots support.

"If other people want this in their states, they have to start organizing their neighbors," he said. […]

Read the complete AP article at CBS News or download it below as published in the Burlington Free Press.