The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mark Dudzic: 201-314-2653

Vermont Labor Leaders Welcome Introduction of Single-Payer Healthcare Bill by Senator Sanders


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' recent introduction of a single-payer healthcare reform bill in the U. S. Senate has drawn praise from Vermont labor leaders. "At a time when incredible pressure is being brought to bear on our representatives to support reform proposals that do little more than bail out the private insurance companies, Senator Sanders has taken his place among those of us who believe that healthcare should be a birthright of all Americans. We applaud his principled leadership," said Traven Leyson, President of the Washington/Orange/Lamoille Counties Central Labor Council.

The Bill, the "American Health Security Act of 2009," Senate Bill 703, is the first piece of single-payer legislation introduced in the Senate since the 2002 death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. Under its provisions, patients could seek care from a doctor or hospital of their choice under a federally funded plan administered by the states. Unlike reform proposals being floated by Senators Baucus and Kennedy, S. 703 would eliminate the role of private health insurance companies in healthcare delivery, producing administrative savings in excess of $400 billion per year.

"So long as we remain dependent on private insurance companies," said Senator Sanders, we're never going to have quality, cost effective healthcare for all Americans." S. 703 would also provide resources to train additional primary care physicians and fully fund community health centers, which many rural Vermont residents depend upon.

"Healthcare costs are the biggest source of contention in contract negotiations these days," remarked Amalgamated Lithographers/ IBT Local One Vice President Dan Brush. "We can no longer solve this problem at the bargaining table. Senator Sanders' proposal will help restore the competitiveness of American industry while guaranteeing healthcare for all Americans."

"The Sanders Bill would provide a great economic stimulus for working people," adds Damon Hall of Ironworkers Local 7. "Since the start of this economic crisis, over half a million workers per month have been losing their employer-provided health insurance."

"The Vermont AFL-CIO is one of 39 state labor federations that have long supported HR 676 (the House of Representatives' version of single payer healthcare reform)," said Lindol Atkins, President of the Vermont AFL-CIO. "We are proud that Senator Sanders is standing up for the people of Vermont and the whole nation by taking the lead in introducing this Bill into the Senate."

Atkins also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and has supported efforts to lobby both houses of Congress and the Obama administration to enact comprehensive healthcare reform. "We intend to ask Senator Leahy to co-sponsor this vital piece of legislation," he added.

Vermont labor leaders are gearing up for a statewide rally for Healthcare As A Human Right at 12:00 noon on Friday, May 1 at the Vermont Statehouse. The event is being coordinated by the Vermont Workers Center-Jobs with Justice and has been endorsed by over 90 organizations in the state. More information is available at: .

The primary purpose of the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care is to increase grassroots labor support for H.R. 676 as an essential element in winning the support of Congress to enact the National Health Care Act "Medicare for All" as the public policy of this country because we believe that health care is a human right.