Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Support of a Comprehensive Patients' Bill of Rights
June 23, 1999
On behalf of the 875 congregations of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the 1,800 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the 1.5 million Reform Jews across the nation, I urge Congress to pass the Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6/H.R.358). Over many centuries Judaism developed rules and regulations aimed at ensuring that all residents of the community had access to quality health care. Our tradition has always been especially concerned for those underrepresented in our society, including women and children. A comprehensive, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights would bring us a step closer to fulfilling our moral obligation to provide quality health care to all members of society.
Citizens across the country are demanding passage of real patient protections. According to a recent survey conducted by Harvard and the Kaiser Family foundation, 65% of Americans believe the government needs to pass legislation to protect them from managed care industry abuses. Despite public support for patient protection, the Congress has yet to consider legislation that would enact real patient protections and ensure that doctors, rather than insurance companies, make the final decisions about patient care.
Medical care is not just another commodity to allocate; medical care is about saving, and improving the quality of, lives. Access to medical care is a fundamental test of how we treat the most precious of God's creatures. We urgently need a comprehensive Patients' Bill of Rights that would properly reflect the value we place on health and human life. Congress should act promptly to pass such a bill.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.