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Reform Jewish Movement Calls on Congress to Pass a Universal Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit

Pelavin: We can no longer ignore the plight of millions of elderly and disabled Americans who are unable to meet the expenses of necessary and life-saving prescription drugs.


Contact:
Alexis Rice or Becca Nagorsky 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2003 - In a letter today, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, urged members of the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees to support the Medicare RX Drug Benefit and Discount Act (H.R. 1199), noting, "This proposal -- unlike the Administration's plan -- would guarantee affordable and reliable prescription drug benefits to all Medicare beneficiaries."

The complete letter follows:

Dear Members of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees:

On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose over 900 congregations encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), representing 1800 Reform rabbis, we write to express our support for the Medicare RX Drug Benefit and Discount Act (H.R. 1199), which was introduced by Representatives Charles B. Rangel, John Dingell, and Pete Stark. This proposal -- unlike the Administration's plan -- would guarantee affordable and reliable prescription drug benefits to all Medicare beneficiaries.

According to Jewish tradition, providing health care is not just an obligation of the doctor, but for society as well. It is for this reason that health care is listed first by Maimonides, a prominent 12th Jewish physician and scholar, on his list of the ten most important communal services that had to be offered by a city to its residents. During the long history of the self-governing Jewish community, almost all such communities set up societies to ensure that all their citizens had access to health care. The very existence of the Medicare program is recognition of society's obligation to provide health care. Prescription medications are a vital part of modern medical care and it is therefore crucial that Medicare continue to fulfill its mandate of providing reliable and comprehensive health benefits to America's elderly and disabled citizens.
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The Medicare RX Drug Benefit and Discount Act would do just that, adding a prescription drug benefit to traditional, fee-for-service Medicare. Under this proposal, Medicare beneficiaries would pay a $25 monthly premium, a $100 annual deductible, 20% coinsurance and a $2000 out-of-pocket limit. There would be additional assistance for low-income seniors. H.R. 1199 is a far better plan for a Medicare prescription drug benefit than that of the Administration. While the Administration's proposal entices beneficiaries into leaving the traditional Medicare program by making more generous prescription drug benefits available to them if they join a managed care plan, H.R. 1199 provides a comprehensive drug benefit that would be administered in the same way that Medicare Parts A and B are administered.

The moral character of a society can be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. We can no longer ignore the plight of millions of elderly and disabled Americans who are unable to meet the expenses of necessary and life-saving prescription drugs. Once again, we urge you to support the Medicare RX Drug Benefit and Discount Act (H.R. 1199).

Sincerely,
/s/
Mark Pelavin
Associate Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis.



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