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Letter To Congress Supporting The Bipartisan Patient Protection Act Of 2001 From Rabbi David Saperstein, Director Of The Religious Action Center Of Reform Judaism

June 19, 2001

Dear Member of Congress,

On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, comprised of over 900 Reform Jewish congregations encompassing 1.5 million members across North America, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1700 Reform rabbis, I write to ask for your support of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 (S. 1052/H.R. 526).

In the midst of dramatic and sweeping changes in the health care industry in recent years, the concerns of patients too often have been trampled. The current system places the health and well-being of millions of Americans in the hands of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) which have denied needed care to cut costs. Illnesses requiring the expertise of specialists are left untreated. To make matters worse, patients with legitimate grievances are lost in bureaucratic limbo, unable to bring their concerns to court.

The McCain-Ganske Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 (S. 1052/H.R. 526) ensures that all Americans with private health insurance will receive protection. It puts medical decisions in the hands of health care providers, not insurance companies, applies a uniform federal floor of protections to all Americans with private health insurance, allowing states to enact more protective standards. This bill also ensures patients recourse to an independent external review process when care is denied. Finally, the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 allows patients to hold their managed care plan accountable when plan decisions to withhold or limit care result in injury or death. The McCain-Ganske legislation is supported by hundreds of advocacy groups representing consumers, nurses, psychologists, teachers, patients and providers, including the American Medical Association.

Our Jewish tradition teaches that when God created the universe we were endowed with the ability to becomes God's partners in curing illness. Providing health is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for the whole of society. It is for this reason that Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, identified care for the sick as the most important communal service that a city had to offer its residents. Health care is too high a priority for its providers to eschew accountability for their actions.

We ask you to join us in supporting strong, comprehensive, and enforceable patient protections that American need and deserve. We urge you to support the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 (S. 1052/H.R. 526).

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director and Counsel

Chai Impact Action Center
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