Put People First! PA Stands with the Vermont Workers Center

Put People First! PA stands with the Vermont Workers Center in this critical time.  Right before Christmas, Vermont Governor Shumlin backtracked on his commitment to follow through on Act 48, a state law passed in 2011 requiring the state of Vermont to provide health care as a public good to all residents by 2017.
The Vermont Workers Center’s Healthcare is a Human Right campaign, launched in 2008 and victorious in passing Act 48 in 2011, is the foundation on which a statewide movement built to scale. The campaign offers a real solution to meet one of our most basic needs, and elevates expectations of our political system – to meet human needs equitably and put people before profit.
The campaign built solidarity between working families who are citizens and undocumented communities, using the guiding principle of universality combined with political development of leaders to ensure a spirit of “unite and resist” as opposed to “divide and conquer”. When the legislature tried to exclude the undocumented from Act 48, VWC members rejected this false choice designed to crush the movement and defeated the measure. Act 48 passed in 2011 as the first truly universal state health care bill in the US. Read More

Demonstrating what our human right to health care looks like

Put People First Free Health Screening Clinics in PA Communities

by Ash Robbins

This Summer Put People First held Health Screening Clinics at outdoor community events in Central and Southeast Pennsylvania. Volunteer nurses offered blood pressure and blood sugar screenings along with education about chronic disease. Put People First members had meaningful conversations with people about their health and human rights, as well as the social, economic, and environmental root causes of health inequity.

The clinics are a way of meeting people’s immediate needs while also connecting people to collective action. The goal is to expand our membership base and offer a health service that helps us imagine a health care system based in the belief that health care is a human right. Read More

by Eliel Acosta, Field Coordinator, Central PA

“You’re not poor because you’re an immigrant, you’re an immigrant because you’re poor” – Willie Baptist

What’s the impact of living as an undocumented immigrant on one’s mental health? Does having to worry about deportation of your family or friends, the fear of driving without a license, the stress of having poor or no access to healthcare and being separated from loved ones affect your mental state of health? These are the questions that I set out to answer as I began a research project as a student at Mount St. Mary’s University.

I grew up in Arendstville, Pennsylvania which is a small town outside of Gettysburg.  Arendstville is known for its yearly Apple Harvest during the fall.  Absent from the festival are the undocumented immigrant workers who pick and package the apple products. Immigration is a  hot topic in this country that is used as a political football by both major parties.  The real human beings who migrate are doing so out of desperation because their human needs are not being met.  The laws about who and how many can legally migrate change over time, and they are made by elites, for political and economic reasons that benefit their interests.  Immigrants are not causing the problems that citizens face, they are the affected by the same power structure that result in suffering and lack of human rights for US-born citizens. Read More

An interview with Mark Dudzic of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare

What’s an easy way to define “single-payer” health care that everyone can understand?

When you ask the American people what kind of health care system they deserve, most will agree that healthcare should be treated as a public good like firefighting, libraries and schools, not as a for-profit business.  They want seamless, cradle to grave coverage as a birthright for everyone in America.  They want no financial barriers to care and a single standard of quality healthcare for everyone in America.  Every nation in the world that has achieved those standards has done so through some form of a single-payer system.  It would work pretty much like Medicare works for Americans over 65.  Everyone is eligible.  The government collects the revenues through an equitable and progressive financing arrangement and pays all the bills.  You are free to choose your own health care providers and you and your providers make all the decisions regarding your care. Read More