Reviving Progressive Activism: A Case Study of Vermont’s Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign

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Anja Rudiger, NESRI, published in New Politics
Publication Date: 
August, 2011

On May 26, 2011, Vermont became the first U.S. state to enact a law for a universal, publicly financed health care system.  As Governor Shumlin signed Act 48, he set Vermont on course toward implementing a single payer system by 2017.

This first breakthrough in the decades-long struggle for universal health care in the United States was rooted in a broad-based people’s movement, the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign (led by the Vermont Workers' Center), whose collective actions changed the public discourse on health care and created the political space for action by elected officials.

Many commentators have recognized the Campaign's important contribution to health reform in the state. Yet the extent and nature of its role as driver of political change, and the key ingredients of its model, are not generally well understood.

NESRI has written a case study, which can be downloaded below, to rectify this.

The study sets out how the Campaign employed the human rights framework to
•    identify people’s fundamental needs and elevate the voices of the crisis of unmet needs,
•    claim people’s rights and recognize the government’s obligations to protect and fulfill those rights, and
•    inspire and support people’s agency in effecting political change.


Our case study was published in the online edition of the journal New Politics.

PDF icon Case_study_8-19.pdf269.65 KB

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