Building a Movement for Health

Vermont’s “Healthcare Is a Human Right” campaign (USA)

Region: North America

Language: English

Year: 2016

Source: Contribution for manual

Author(s): Ben Palmquist, Campaign Manager, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI)

Summary: The “Healthcare Is a Human Right” campaign, led by the Vermont Worker’s Center, won the passage of Act 48 on May 26, 2011, making Vermont the first state in the US to pass a law to create a universal, publicly financed health care system. Through grassroots organizing, the campaign – based on a human rights framework and a value-based approach (as opposed to technical/economic discourse) – set out to demonstrate to every legislator in Vermont that the majority of their constituents supported equal, high-quality healthcare for everyone, and that ignoring the Vermonters who elected them would be politically costly. Use of independent media was key in counteracting the neglect by mainstream media. While the right to healthcare is now enshrined in state law, Vermont’s officials have not followed through by financing the healthcare system. The Vermont Workers’ Center continues to organize grassroots support to push Vermont’s lawmakers to fulfill their obligation.

For more information on this experience, plase see and/or write to Ben Palmquist at

Key practices: values; advocacy, campaigns, communication; participation, community action

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