Last week, Vermont passed the first-ever universal health care bill in this country, creating a path toward a publicly financed system that will provide health care as a public good for all.
This achievement marks the success of the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, run by the Vermont Workers' Center, a NESRI partner. The Campaign has organized Vermonters to demand their human right to health care, thereby changing public discourse and creating the political space for legislative action.
In a speech at the annual May Day rally, which saw thousands of Vermonters converging on the Statehouse, Peg Franzen, president of the Vermont Workers' Center, recalled the driving force behind universal health care in Vermont:
"In church basements, around kitchen tables, on street corners and at work, thousands of Vermonters are joining together around the vision of healthcare as a human right. Thousands of Vermonters - and more every day - are doing small things (and often quite huge things too) to grow our movement and make the change that we want to see. Ordinary people joining together in our communities - this is what democracy looks like. We have a vision, a beautiful vision. And we have a strategy, a very simple strategy. We are growing the power that we need to bring our vision to life, one person at a time. We are going to win healthcare as a human right. We are going to lead the nation."
NESRI believes that the passage of this universal health care bill constitutes exciting progress for the struggle for the human right to health care in the United States. While the process of transition to the new system will be a process of continued struggle, this achievement sets a powerful example for advocates and activists everywhere. Our initial analysis appears in the Huffington Post.
Please join NESRI and the Vermont Workers' Center at an event on May 18th, 2011, 7:30pm, in New York City to support the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign. We will celebrate the success and hear about the future challenges for the Campaign's grassroots effort to make Vermont the first state in the country to create a universal health care system.
Cathy Albisa, NESRI's director, will moderate a panel discussion with
- James Haslam, director, Vermont Workers' Center,
- Oliver Fein, chair of the NY Chapter, Physicians for a National Health Program, professor at Weill Cornell Medical College,
- Katie Robbins, Healthcare NOW!, and
- Anja Rudiger, NESRI
Venue: All Souls' Unitarian Church, Lexington Avenue & 80th Street, Manhattan
RSVPs to Bekah@workerscenter.org or 802.522.0773
We hope to see you at this event, or at any of the future presentations the Vermont Workers' Center will give across the country.
Your NESRI team