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."
Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800
WASHINGTON, November 1 — Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the social action office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, today encouraged members of the conference committee charged with reconciling House and Senate patients' rights legislation to include language found in H.R. 2723. The House language, more reflective of public opinion than the Senate bill (S. 6), would allow for greater accountability on the part of HMO's for services provided and services denied. In a statement to conferees, Pelavin expressed his support the patients' bill of rights on behalf of the 875 congregations of the UAHC, whose membership includes more than 1.5 million Reform Jews. The full text follows:
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.
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 struggle to enact real patient protections and return control over medical care to patients and their doctors has been hard fought.
We call on Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights that:
- Includes an effective independent external appeals process and holds plans legally accountable for health care services they perform or fail to provide;
- Provides real emergency room access;
- Guarantees access to specialists, out-of-network providers, and obstetrician/gynecological services, and allows patients to keep their doctors or health care professionals;
- Improves patients' access to HMOs' rules and regulations;
- Ensures the privacy of medical records.
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. We urge you to craft a strong conference report containing legislation consonant with the will of the majority of Americans and mindful of the tremendous trust placed in the hands of HMO's.
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.