The Week in Review

The week that ended with a Labor Department report on Friday that unemployment hit 9.4 percent in May began with a White House report that said overhauling the U.S. health care system is a critical component of fixing the economy. With health care taking center stage in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders and others drafting legislation met with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Sanders brokered a meeting of single payer advocates with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. A member of a key Senate committees drafting legislation, Sanders is the most outspoken Senate advocate for a single-payer system that promises improved health care and major savings.

Health Care - White House Summit During a meeting with senators on the health and finance committees, President Obama called on lawmakers to send him a bill before August, saying, “This is going to be the make-or-break period.  This is the time where we've got to get this done.” Sanders and other key senators want a public plan that would compete with private insurers for business. Obama supported the idea during his presidential campaign. “I think you’re going to find him supportive of it, as he has been in the past,” said Sanders. “He understands that to at least police the private insurance companies, we need a strong public plan.”

Single Payer “If the goal of health care reform is to provide comprehensive, universal health care in a cost-effective way, the only honest approach is a single-payer approach,” Sanders told The Washington Post. “I fear very much that much of the talk of health-care reform is not getting to the root cause of why we have 46 million uninsured and why we pay more for health care per person than any industrialized country on earth.” To read more of the Post interview, click here. To read an interview with Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, click here. To watch excerpts of a Sanders press conference, click here.

Community Health Centers Sanders on Friday announced a major step toward establishing Vermont's ninth Federally-Qualified Health Center in Addison County. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week designated five Addison County towns as underserved in terms of access to health care. "This is an important milestone," said Sanders. "It is the crucial first step on the road toward a community health center in Addison County which will ensure that residents of the area will have access to high-quality primary health care regardless of income." Sanders has been a champion of expanding access to health care and played a major role during the last six years in taking Vermont from two health centers to eight, with more than 30 satellite sites. To learn more, click here.

The Great Recession The unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent in May, the highest in more than a quarter century. The rate was 16.4 percent if laid-off workers who stopped looking for jobs are counted. The Labor Department report on Friday said a total of 14.5 million people were unemployed in May.

The Road to Recovery – Clean Water Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch were at the St. Albans Bay Park Monday to announce $39 million in economic stimulus funds for clean water projects in Vermont.  One of the major goals of the stimulus funds is to repair crumbling infrastructure, Sanders said, noting that more money will be spent on roads and bridges this year than any time in the past 30 years. Lake Champlain, Sanders said, is the most valuable natural resource in the state. To watch the Fox 44 report, click here.

The Road to Recovery – National Forests Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest and its surrounding communities will benefit from the next wave of economic recovery act funds coming to the state.  Vermont’s congressional delegation announced on Friday that the U.S. Forest Service will invest $5.295 million in economic stimulus funds on projects that range from road upgrades to waterway improvements that will help conserve endangered species such as the Atlantic Salmon. Five projects on and around the Green Mountain National Forest will create jobs while contributing improvements to public health and safety and access to the Forest.  To read more about it, click here.