Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on Supporting the Patients' Bill of Rights (S.6/H.R.358) April 9, 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 am pleased to announce our support of the Patients' Bill of Rights Act (S.6/H.R.358), introduced by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Congressman John Dingell, and our participation in the national petition drive urging enactment of a real Patients' Bill of Rights.

Over many centuries Judaism developed rules and regulations aimed at ensuring that all residents of the community had access to quality health care. 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 our 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 105th Congress ended without passing a Patients' Bill of Rights, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee passed a bill that would fail to 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.

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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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