After 22 years in the coal mines, Jimmy Slone is still working—now as a City Commissioner for Vicco, Kentucky. His black lung disease does not stop him from getting up in the middle of the night to assure that the city’s water system is safe. He and his fellow commissioners volunteer their time to better their town. They show the courage of their convictions in other ways. They voted to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and have called on the nation to pass Single Payer Health Care, HR 676, Congressman John Conyers’ Improved Medicare for All bill.
VICCO, Ky—This little Appalachian community that made national news a year ago by passing a Fairness Ordinance did it again tonight. It voted to endorse Single Payer Healthcare, HR 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, HR 676, national single payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI). Vicco—established by the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company—is now the fourth Kentucky local government to favor Single Payer Healthcare. 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 LA 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 Show 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 new-found 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 HR 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. HR 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.
Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care (502) 636 1551 firstname.lastname@example.org
February 7, 2014