About Vienna Colucci

Vienna Colucci is Director of Policy at Amnesty International USA. Vienna has been a member of AIUSA's staff since 1992. In that time, she has served as the Director of AIUSA's Program for International Justice and Accountability, which involved building grassroots support for the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the exercise of universal jurisdiction to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable in domestic courts; and respect for fair trials and the rule of law in combating terrorism. She organized AIUSA's campaign for U.S. signature of the ICC treaty, and researched and helped to draft AIUSA's USA: Safe Haven for Torturers report. Prior to that, Vienna was Director of AIUSA’s Membership Networks Program, responsible for advocacy, training and outreach related to the legal protection of human rights, health and human rights, children's rights, and religion and human rights. Vienna has served on AIUSA's crisis teams formed in response to the attacks of September 11 and the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Sudan, Israel and the Occupied Territories. She has for a number of years been involved in AIUSA’s Committee on Mission, Research and Action, which educates and advises members and staff about policy issues of concern to the AI movement, and chaired the interdepartmental staff working group responsible for building movement capacity to campaign on economic, social and cultural rights.
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What's So Funny About Universal Healthcare?

Yesterday someone emailed me a link to a mock NYT article, National Health Insurance Act Passes.  I’m embarrassed to confess: I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I believe that universal health care is one of the most important issues of our time, so, for a minute, as I read the first few paragraphs, I was elated. And then I noticed the date: July 4, 2009.

The United States National Health Insurance Act really does exist. Representative John Conyers first introduced the bill (H.R. 676) in 2003. Today there are 93 cosponsors. The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system for all, essentially expanding the U.S. Medicare program.   It would be what is described as a “single payer” system.

Polls show that some sixty-four percent of Americans want the U.S. to adopt universal health insurance. Fifty-four percent support a single payer system, as do 6 in 10 physicians. President-elect Obama has said that he would  consider a single payer health care system if he were designing a system from scratch.

So why does the idea of “Medicare for all” seem so far-fetched?  Is it really on “that’ll never happen” par with Donald Rumsfeld tearfully admitting on “The View” that “the whole torture thing wasn’t such a good idea” (as reported in another mock NYT article)?

Are we intimidated by the prospect of confronting a powerful insurance lobby? Is the stumbling block the “socialized medicine” label that opponents are quick to throw around?

I’ll confess one other thing: the article left me feeling energized in a surprising way.  For a moment, I felt what it would be like to learn that Congress had taken a genuinely groundbreaking step to ensure that no one falls between the cracks. That the right to health care would finally be something people enjoy and not just hear about in debates. That 18,000 people wouldn’t die that year because they couldn’t afford care. That hundreds of billions of dollars wouldn’t be diverted from health care to administration while policymakers talk about having to make hard choices about who can be covered. And that hundreds of thousands of people wouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy or homelessness by crushing medical bills.

So what do you think? Can we make universal healthcare a reality in the United States?

Learn more about what activists in the U.S. are doing to bring about universal healthcare:


Health Care for America Now


Human Right to Health Care