Protest set for New England Obama health care forum on March 17

March 12, 2009

Deborah Richter, M.D., at or call (802) 371-7754 (cell), (802) 224-9037 (home), (802) 741-7004 (pager)

One of five regional forums on health care reform arranged by the Obama administration will be held at the University of Vermont's Davis Center on Tuesday, March 17, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are hosting the event.

A publicly financed universal health care system, or as it is sometimes called, a single-payer system, is not on the agenda for discussion. Douglas and Patrick oppose a universal health care system. As for Obama, he stated unequivocal support for single payer in 2003. As a presidential candidate and as president he so far has not repeated his support.

New England is home to a strong universal health care movement. Advocates are marshaling their resources and are staging a large protest outside the university's Davis Center in Burlington, starting before noon. Their spokespersons describe it as "peaceful and respectful."

The purpose of the demonstration is to show the enormous support for the single-payer plan and to insist that it be considered as a serious option for reform. Expectations are that hundreds of doctors, nurses and concerned citizens will begin arriving at the Davis Center around 11 a.m. from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and of course Vermont. Organizers have received responses from hundreds of doctors and nurses in the region indicating they intend to join the protest.

Dr. Deborah Richter, one of the organizers representing Vermont Health Care for All, said, "There will be more discussion of substance outside the Davis Center meeting room than inside.

"All polls," she continued, "show that we hold the majority opinion. To fix the problems, the focus must include more than the uninsured. All of us are having problems with paying insurance. All the evidence shows that a publicly financed system -- something like Medicare -- could save money and cover everyone.

"By excluding us from any substantive discussion of health care reform confines us to what we call the marginalized majority. It is time for our leaders to take single payer seriously."