Staying on Course toward Universal Healthcare – Statement by Vermont’s Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign

The Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, led by the Vermont Workers' Center, issued a statement in response to recent news reports that some lawmakers are "considering alternatives" to implementing the universal healthcare law in Vermont.

Vermont can and must stay on the course to universal, publicly financed healthcare. In 2011 our state enacted Act 48, the country’s first universal healthcare law, based on the express will of the people of Vermont. After decades of piecemeal reforms, the healthcare crisis cost too many people their health, their dignity, and their financial security. In an unprecedented spirit of unity around the principle that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege or a commodity, the people, our legislators and our governor came together and committed to establishing a universal, publicly financed healthcare system. They agreed for Green Mountain Care to provide healthcare as a public good to all, in order to ensure that every resident gets the care they need, when they need it.
Today, the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, a statewide grassroots movement spearheaded by the Vermont Workers’ Center, asks our elected representatives to take concrete steps toward a universal healthcare system that is publicly financed through equitable taxes and fully meets our communities’ healthcare needs.
“We urge our representatives to do the right thing and stay on the course that Act 48 lays out, so we can finally ensure our human right to healthcare in Vermont,” said Mary Gerisch, president of the Vermont Worker’s Center. “We know that legislators are under a lot of pressure from those with vested interests in the market-based system, but we need them to stay firm and say no to diversions that will get us stuck with the unjust and unsustainable healthcare mess we have now.”
It is time to move beyond the Affordable Care Act and a market-based insurance system that treats healthcare as a commodity, not a right. All over the country, people and policymakers are realizing that reform efforts are doomed to failure as long as private insurance corporations stand between the people and their doctors and make access to quality care unaffordable for anyone but the wealthy. The eyes of the country are on Vermont, which can lead the way to universal, publicly financed healthcare in the United States.
This legislative session Vermont has the opportunity to move forward on the path to universal healthcare, guided by the human rights principles in Act 48. Last week, after the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign’s day of action at the Statehouse, the House Healthcare Committee took a step in the right direction by passing S.252 with important improvements proposed by the campaign.
This is the time to commit to a financing plan based on the principle of equity, which requires progressive tax-based financing so that everyone contributes according to their ability. It is time to commit to a truly universal system that puts people’s health needs first, leaves no one out, and is sufficiently funded to meet all our healthcare needs. The people of Vermont cannot wait any longer for a strong healthcare system that protects everyone’s health.  
The Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign calls on all elected officials to keep their eyes on the prize of universal, publicly financed healthcare. We are joining with other universal and single payer healthcare advocates to ensure that our democracy works for the people of Vermont and makes our human right to healthcare a reality. We stand united in the struggle for universal healthcare.