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Rabbi Saperstein: "Inspired by our tradition’s values underlying our call to provide healthcare to all members of our society, we are pleased that the reforms put in place by the health care reform law will ensure greater access to care for millions of Americans."
WASHINGTON D.C. January 2, 2014 - In response to major provisions of the Affordable Care Act taking effect this week, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
This week marks not only the start of the new year, but with it the implementation of significant parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Inspired by our tradition’s values underlying our call to provide healthcare to all members of our society, we are pleased that the reforms put in place by the health care reform law will ensure greater access to care for millions of Americans.
Beginning this week, more than 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be ensured eligibility for coverage, and individuals will no longer face yearly caps on essential benefits. Additionally, subsidies, tax credits, and federal programs (including the expanded Medicaid program in some states) will enable millions more working- and middle-class Americans to obtain coverage. Already, over 6 million Americans have signed up for these new plans, and open enrollment continues through the end of March. And though the ACA’s rollout has not been trouble-free, the benefits now available add to those that have been implemented since the passage of the ACA three years ago, including over three million young adults who have gained health insurance by staying on their parents' plans, the elimination of lifetime limits, and the closing of the Medicare "donut hole." Nonetheless, we are cognizant that many Americans are still not enjoying the full benefits of the ACA, and we strongly encourage all governors and state legislatures to expand Medicaid in their states.
Our Jewish tradition teaches that human life is of infinite value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations. The Talmud declares, "Whoever is in pain, lead him to the physician" (Baba Kamma 46B). Our tradition is emphatic about the role of the community in ensuring healthcare for its vulnerable members. God endowed humanity with the understanding and ability to become partners with God in making a better world, and the use of our wisdom to cure illnesses has been a constant teaching in Jewish thought and history. Even when we do not personally have the skills to heal, we have a responsibility to contribute to the healing of others. We are heartened that the reforms taking effect this week will positively affect Americans who need vital care. As more Americans experience the benefits of the ACA in the coming months, we know that the law's provisions will continue to help bring about a more just society.