Vicco, Ky., stays in spotlight, endorses single payer

By Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare

VICCO,  Ky. — This little Appalachian community that made national news a year ago by passing a Fairness Ordinance did it again Monday night. It voted to endorse single-payer health care, H.R. 676, joining 54 other American cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore.

The struggling coal town of 334 people unanimously endorsed Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, H.R. 676, national single-payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

Vicco — established by the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company — is now the fourth Kentucky local government to favor single-payer health care.  The others are Metro Louisville, Boyle County, and the city of Morehead. In 2007, the Kentucky House legislators also endorsed the bill.

Vicco was put on the map early last year when The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and other national media covered the passage of the town's new law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It was the smallest city in America to pass such a law.

Vicco gained further fame last August when Mayor Johnny Cummings and city commissioners were featured on "The Colbert Report" on cable television. The Colbert segment went viral, with almost three-quarters of a million views.

Since then, Vicco Mayor Johnny Cummings and the city commissioners have won further state and national praise.  At an event that featured Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan last September, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto referred to Vicco when he described Kentucky as a place “deep in values that show up in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.”

Vicco's newfound reputation as a progressive and humane community led to a presentation Monday night on health care by Dr. Garrett Adams, past president of Physicians for a National Health Program, and three Louisville colleagues, all representing Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare (KSPH).

The KSPH members pointed out that every person in Vicco — and everywhere else in the United States — would be covered by a plan similar to but better than the Medicare system that now serves those over 65 years of age.  The H.R. 676 bill would expand Medicare to all ages and would improve it to include dental, vision, mental health — all medically necessary care.  Patients would choose their own doctors and hospitals and there would be no co-pays or deductibles.  H.R. 676 would annually save over $400 billion by ending the profits and waste caused by private insurance companies.  The savings would then be used to expand an improved care to everyone in the country.

Kay Tillow, chair of KSPH, said, "It's a moral issue. We believe that health care should not depend on ability to pay. We invite other cities to join our grassroots movement.”

The Vicco city commissioners decided to throw the weight of the town government behind this movement. Their resolution appears below.

Text of the Resolution under the seal of the City of Vicco, Kentucky

Whereas:  Barriers to quality medical care infringe on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and access to health care is a fundamental human right, and;

Whereas a bill has been introduced in Congress, H.R. 676, aka The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, that will provide all medically necessary care, including dental and prescription drugs, to everyone in the country from birth to death.  There will be no co-pays nor deductibles so that inability to pay will be removed as an impediment to care.

Whereas with H.R. 676 each person will choose their own physicians, hospitals, and other providers.

Therefore be it resolved that the City of Vicco wholeheartedly endorses H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act; and

Be it further resolved that we call on our representative in Congress, Representative Harold Rogers, to formally co-sponsor H.R. 676 so that the people of our city, our state, and our nation can  move forward toward the excellent health care we deserve.

Mayor Johnny Cummings
Claude Branson, Commissioner
Lula Gibson, Commissioner
Jimmy Slone, Commissioner

An electronic copy of the resolution available upon request from Kay Tillow, Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare,, (502) 636-1551.