MONTPELIER – Dozens of universal healthcare supporters are sitting-in at the Vermont statehouse this evening, following a colorful rally drawing hundreds and a series of interruptions with banners and singing as Governor Shumlin delivered his annual State of the State address. The governor announced in December he would no longer move forward with Act 48, a law passed in 2011 after a sustained grassroots campaign which commits the state to a universal, publicly-financed healthcare system by 2017. Sit-in participants have denounced the Governor’s decision and are refusing to leave until the legislature commits to moving forward with and holding a public hearing on the Governor’s financing proposals. 
“We’re here today because healthcare is a human right, and legislators have a moral imperative to move forward with financing Green Mountain Care, as laid out in Act 48.” said Anna Gebhardt, a Burlington resident and mother of two. “So many of us are struggling with astronomical healthcare costs and medical debt, and we’re not going to let the governor’s decision hold us back. Today we’re sending a clear message to the legislature that now is the time to act on universal healthcare is Vermont.”
Earlier in the day, over a hundred people congregated across the street for a “People’s State of the State,” sharing stories about the impacts of the economic crisis on their communities and receiving a national statement of support from over 50 national and state-based organizations, including Amnesty International, Ms. Foundation for Women, and Healthcare NOW!  Signatories include national organizations as well as groups from California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington.
This morning, the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign delivered an open letter to Vermont legislators,  pointing out that according to the Governor’s own estimates, a universal publicly-financed healthcare system would increase net incomes for 9 in 10 Vermont families. The campaign is developing its own rights-based proposal for equitable financing, which it will release to the legislature in the coming weeks.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1] The demonstrator’s demands are listed here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/sit-demand-speaker-house-shap-smith
2] Find the national sign-on statement here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/open-letter-50-organizations-now-time-green-mountain-care
3] Open letter to legislators available here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/healthcare-human-right-campaign-open-letter-calling-legislators-action