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Reform Jewish Leader Urges Congress to Pass Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6)

Saperstein: "Medical care is not just another commodity; 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."

Contact: Jeff Mandell or Adina Rosenbaum, (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, July 12, 1999 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today encouraged members of Congress to support the Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6) and to oppose any amendments that would weaken the protections it provides to patients.

"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," wrote Saperstein in a letter to Senators.

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Senator:

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 you to support the Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6) and to oppose any amendments that would weaken the protections it provides to patients.

The Jewish tradition teaches us that providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for society as well. 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.

We call on Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights that:

  • Protects all patients with private insurance;
  • Keeps HMO's from arbitrarily interfering with medical decisions;
  • Includes an effective independent external appeals process and holds plans accountable;
  • Provides real emergency room access;
  • Prohibits gag rules and improper financial incentives and protects providers who advocate for patients;
  • Guarantees access to specialists, out-of-network providers, and ob/gyn services, and allows patients to keep their doctors or health care professionals;
  • Provides standing referrals to specialists and allows specialists to coordinate care for chronically ill patients;
  • Guarantees networks meet patients' needs;
  • Provides access to needed prescription drugs and clinical trials;
  • Protects against providers/patient discrimination.

Medical care is not just another commodity; 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.

I urge you to support the Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6).

Sincerely,
/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein

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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.



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