Rabbi Saperstein: "In the current crisis of health care coverage and access, todays vote moves us closer to the principles of reform that we as Reform Jews have long advocated."
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TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2009 - In response to the House passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act yesterday evening, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The Union for Reform Judaism applauds the Houses adoption of momentous health insurance reform legislation. We have long called on Congress to reform our nations failing health care system, which leaves millions of Americans underinsured and uninsured. The passage of this historic bill is a crucial step toward affordable, accessible and quality health care for all Americans, yet we cannot ignore the inclusion of an amendment barring insurance offered under the "public option" from covering abortion services. This amendment is an attack on the rights enshrined in Roe vs. Wade and a threat to the health of millions of American women, and we urge both houses to strip it from a final bill.
Nonetheless, the Affordable Health Care for America Act is a welcome step on the road to health reform. It would expand coverage to nearly 96% of Americans. It includes a public health insurance option that would negotiate with providers to keep costs down, expands Medicaid and provides subsidies to ensure that low-income and lower middle-income families can afford coverage. The bill also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for people with preexisting conditions and is expected to reduce budget deficits by $104 billion over 10 years.
Just this week at the Union for Reform Judaisms Biennial convention in Toronto, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to endorse this landmark legislation. Jewish tradition mandates that we as a society provide for our fellow citizens basic needs, including health care. When members of a community at large are ill, our responsibility is to ensure that medical resources are available at an affordable cost to those who need them. This principle is also embodied in the concept of mipnei tikkun haolam - what we are obliged to do in order to repair the world in which we find ourselves.
In the current crisis of health care coverage and access, yesterdays vote moves us closer to the principles of reform for which we have long advocated: protection of low income and other vulnerable populations, quality and affordable care, and a financially sustainable foundation.
We will continue to work with members of the Senate and throughout the conference process to remove from the bill the dangerous provisions that are a threat to womens reproductive health, and we look forward to achieving the health insurance reform all Americans need and deserve.