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Protesters Rally for Single-Payer Health Coverage


Published March 17, 2009 at 3:24 p.m.

At noon today, more than 150 protesters showed up at the University of Vermont's Davis Center. The protest, organized by Save Vermont Health Care, coincided with today's regional health care forum, one of five such events organized by the White House. (The other forums are taking place this month and next in California, Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina.)

As I write (2:42 p.m.), Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten is posting Twitter updates from inside the invitation-only forum.

The protest crowd was a who's who of the Vermont Left. A few recognizable locals, such as James Haslam from the Vermont Workers' Center and Ohavi Zedek Rabbi Joshua Chasan, addressed the crowd. Chasan said his grandfather heard John F. Kennedy propose the federal Medicare program in 1962. "Medicare for all," he added. "Let it begin in Vermont!"

Other protesters came from neighboring states. Shana Spitzman, 28, a licensed family nurse practitioner whom I interviewed in the video above, had come up from New York City. A single-payer advocate, Spitzman told the crowd that our current health care system forces sick people to "fall through the cracks."

Jeanine Hickey, a 52-year-old Registered Nurse from Bradford, Massachusetts, told me she was in Burlington to support HR 676, a federal bill designed to provide "comprehensive health insurance" for all U.S. residents.

"We're out here in support of single-payer health insurance," added Brian Moloney, a union organizer who had driven up with Hickey. "Not like the fake kind we have in Massachusetts."

I'm including another video interview I did with a guy dressed up as Barack Obama.