May 16, 2011
In the beginning of May 2011, the US state of 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. 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.”
According to NESRI, the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, 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.” On May 18th, NESRI and the Vermont Workers’ Centre organise an event in New York City to celebrate the success of and further support the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign.