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Reform Jewish Leader Urges Congress to Pass Patients' Bill of Rights (H.R. 3605/S. 1890)

Pelavin: "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."

For Immediate Release
July 23, 1998

Contact: Laura B. Mutterperl,
(202) 387-2800

The RAC released the following press statement in support of the Patients' Bill of Rights (H.R. 3605/S. 1890) sponsored by Representative Dingell and Senator Daschle and urging members of Congress to focus on universal access as the ultimate goal in the health care debates.

Please urge your Representatives and Senators to support this bill, and not the alternative versions offered by the House and Senate Leadership. For more information, please contact Laura Mutterperl at mutterp@juno.com.

Text of the release follows:

WASHINGTON (July 23, 1998) -- Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, encouraged members of Congress to focus during the managed health care debates on proposals guaranteeing universal access to health care and on incorporating the principles of patients' rights articulated by the bipartisan Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

"There is a Jewish teaching that when God created the universe we were endowed with the ability to become God's partners in curing illness. Providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for society as well," wrote Pelavin in a letter to members of Congress today.

"H.R. 3605/S.1890 includes these principles in its efforts to improve the nation's system of managed care provision. 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."

Text of the letter follows:

On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing more than 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1800 rabbis across the country, I write in strong support of the Patients Bill of Rights (H.R. 3605/S. 1890), sponsored by Representative Dingell (D-MI) and Senator Daschle (D-SD).

There is a Jewish teaching that when God created the universe we were endowed with the ability to become God's partners in curing illness. Providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for society as well. It is for this reason that Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents. (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Hamadda IV: 23)

During the debates on patients' rights in managed health care programs, I encourage you to focus on proposals guaranteeing universal access to health care. I urge you to apply the following principles supported by the bipartisan and diverse Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. Patients have the right to:

  1. 1. A health care system with greater consumer participation, involvement and responsibility;

  2. Receive accurate and accessible information;

  3. Open medical communications without "gags" preventing doctors from discussing treatment options;

  4. Access emergency services without prior authorization;

  5. A health insurance plan that includes access to specialty services;

  6. Non-discriminatory receiving of coverage and delivery of services; and

  7. A fair and efficient complaints and appeals process.

H.R. 3605/S.1890 includes these principles in its efforts to improve the nation's system of managed care provision. 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.

I urge you to support H.R. 3605/S. 1890.

Sincerely,

/s/

Mark J. Pelavin

###

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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