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In the Days of Awe, stand with those who need access to care

In the Days of Awe, stand with those who need access to care

Health Care Symbol

At this time of the Jewish New Year, we should want to help not harm people.

In these Days of Awe, many of us are imagining how we can better ourselves so we can help others. As we reflect on how to act “justly” in these challenging times, we have an action that you can take right now, that will demonstrably help other Americans. Senators Cassidy and Graham are trying one last time to get a bill with only Republican-support that will repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thereby deny care to millions of people. The bill they introduced last week must be voted on by September 30 or “die” forever. As per the Senate Parliamentarian: the Senate has two weeks left to pass a bill that will require only 50 Republican votes with Vice President Pence casting the deciding 51st vote. After that, any legislation will need the support of 60 Senators (and thus will have to include Democrats) to avoid a filibuster.

The three key features of Cassidy-Graham you need to know are that it washes the federal government’s hands over time of Medicaid. Simply put that is not fair and retracts the federal promise that every president since Lyndon Johnson made to the poor in this country. Second, the Cassidy-Graham bill penalizes states such as Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio among others that had the guts to expand Medicaid. Third, the bill decimates the current Affordable Care Act ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer and mental disabilities. The law as currently written would allow states to sell health insurance that would eliminate many health benefits such as coverage of life-saving medication for people with heart problems.

You can and should rightly ask, how can a former family physician such as Senator Cassidy of Louisiana, support such a bill? I used to wonder about these issues myself but no more; what I’ve come to understand is that for many human beings the issue is not to assess the balance between good and evil legislation, the issue is "winning." President Trump, Majority Leader McConnell and their allies desperately want a legislative win – at all costs – even if it results in a demonstrable loss to people. 

Bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans is showing some signs of life even in health care. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patti Murray are holding hearings right now on how to stabilize the health insurance market.

In Deuteronomy (30:19) which we just read last week, God tells us: “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil…I call heaven and earth as witnesses. Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will live”.

We must choose life for as many people as possible. Please call and email to encourage your Senator to vote against harming people and vote against Cassidy-Graham. Encourage a vote against harming people by denying them benefits; encourage a vote against harming people by not providing health insurance to those in need. Act now by clicking here to contact your Senators. Harming people is not the way to usher in the Jewish New Year. Instead, encourage Senators to work together and support life-saving health care.


Norbert I. Goldfield, M.D. A practicing physician, Dr. Goldfield also works as a medical director for a private health care research group, developing tools linking payment for health careservices to improved health care quality. He edits a peer reviewed medical journal, the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, and has published more than fifty books and articles on a wide range of health care issues. Dr. Goldfield is also the Founder/Executive director of Healing Across the Divides (www.healingdivides.org), a thirteen year old organization focusing on peace-building through health in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has served as president of his synagogue and currently serves on the board. The opinion expressed represent those of Dr. Goldfield.

Published: 9/19/2017