Dec. 12 is Universal Health Coverage Day, a day for celebration in most of the developed world.
In this country, the richest in the world, and in this state, not so much.
At the federal level, government support for health care was first suggested a century ago and progress has been slow. Most recently, federal support for health care has been partially reversed. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been weakened, Medicare and Medicaid are constantly under threat, and the health of those without financial resources is undermined indirectly by lack of support for nutrition and housing.
In 2011, Act 48 put Vermont on a path to a single-payer system, but it has been stalled almost from its passage. Even economical universal primary care has languished in the Legislature. Meanwhile, ever-increasing insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles make access to affordable health care further out of reach.
The People’s Health and Wellness Clinic in Barre, along with similar clinics around the state, help fill the gap in our health care resources. These charitable organizations fill a desperate need, but people should not have to depend on charity for health care.
The League of Women Voters has advocated for government-supported health care since 1992. In 2020, the league will celebrate its centennial. The organization was founded by suffragists who won the franchise after a campaign of 72 years. I hope it doesn’t take another long, long campaign to bring universal health care to the United States.