Reframing the Health Reform Debate – From the Healthcare Is a Human Right Oregon Tour

Vermont made national headlines in May when it passed the nation’s most far-reaching health reform legislation, creating the framework for a publicly funded, universal health care system.

Details of the new system, called Green Mountain Care, are still being hammered out. But when it goes into effect — as early as 2014, if federal waivers are granted — it will provide a comprehensive package of publicly funded health benefits for all Vermonters.

How did health care reformers in Vermont succeed where single-payer advocates in other states have failed? By reframing the debate in terms of universal human rights and mobilizing ordinary people to demand affordable care for all.

“We didn’t do this in Vermont by having a better argument than other people have had,” said Sarah Weintraub of the Vermont Workers’ Center, which spearheaded the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign. “It’s about really building a movement of people to stand up for that vision.”

Weintraub and fellow organizer Kate Kanelstein were in Corvallis Monday as part of a speaking tour sponsored by the Oregon Single Payer Campaign and other reform groups. Their twofold aim is to stoke enthusiasm for reform in other states while lining up allies to bolster their own fragile victory at home.