Emanuel: ACA Consistent with Jewish Values
— by Max Samis
In an op-ed published by JTA, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — is in lockstep with Jewish values and traditions. Emanuel wrote:
The duty to heal the sick and provide for the poor are deep moral imperatives in the Jewish tradition. Combined with the biblical command to treat the stranger as yourself because you were once a stranger in a strange land, this duty transforms our obligations beyond the worthy interest in promoting the health and well-being of our own community. Our mothers can't just want their children to be doctors to Jewish people, they must heal whomever is sick-Jew and non-Jew.
This element of Jewish philosophy makes the Jews' stake in health care reform enormous. It is not just about providing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans-caring for children who might not get the vaccinations or the checkups they need, or diagnosing cancer or other diseases early, or making sure people don't have to choose between bankruptcy and having a needed surgical procedure. For Jews it is about more; it is about holding true to our tradition.
After 100 years of trying to achieve comprehensive health care reform-an effort that started with Teddy Roosevelt and continued with FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton-Congress finally passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010. Once and for all, the Supreme Court affirmed that the law, particularly the individual mandate, is constitutional...
Because of this health care reform, children can no longer be denied care due to pre-existing conditions. Patients can't lose coverage when they get sick. Insurance companies can't impose lifetime caps on care or raise premiums without reason. Medical research will proceed faster, as insurers must cover the cost of participation on clinical trials. And all of this reform comes while still allowing preserving the traditional physician-patient relationship...
These changes will save lives. They will perfect our union and help repair our world. Yet Republican leaders want to reverse course...
Republicans claim they want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The fact is they have never once offered a coherent "replacement" alternative plan to the ACA that controls costs, provides care to the uninsured and incentivizes better quality care. "Repeal and replace" may be good rhetoric, but unfortunately it is not backed up by any real substance. As Jews, can we really accept living in a country that denies tens of millions of our citizens access to health care insurance? Can we in good conscience let our children-and our neighbors' children-go without vaccinations, checkups and care for the simplest of ailments?
President Obama courageously championed health care reform. He understood the moral imperative.
Because he led, millions of families will now be part of the health care system and Jewish doctors will better be able to fulfill their obligations to help save the world. And Jewish mothers can be prouder still that their sons-and daughters-can care for all Americans.