“Health Insurance For All”

At the URJ Biennial in San Diego last week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie launched a major initiative to promote state-level advocacy for expanded access to health insurance and Universal Health Care.  Rabbi Yoffie’s Saturday morning sermon served as a call to action, reminding us of the Jewish and moral imperative to do everything in our power to provide Universal Health Care.  In Rabbi Yoffie’s words, “now is the time. Every uninsured family is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The time has long since passed when our leaders should have done what every other advanced country has somehow managed to do: provide all its citizens with essential health care.” 

The wisdom of approaching this monumental problem on the state level is reflected in this week’s health care-related news.  On Wednesday, Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced that New Jersey has developed a plan that will allow lower- and middle-income families to obtain health insurance for their children at significantly reduced rates.  The state has partnered with Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield to provide affordable insurance for children who are living above 350% of the poverty level. A New York Times article on the agreement suggests that New Jersey’s commitment to insuring all of its children is a step in the direction of Universal Health Care and a symbol of the state’s commitment to being a leader in this endeavor.

In contrast, on the national level, Congress compensated for its failure to pass an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) with the passage of a simple extension of funding.  Despite the efforts of many members of Congress to cover 10 million children, including 4 million children who are currently uninsured, Congress, at least temporarily, settled for an extension of the program that will barely allow states to cover those children who are already enrolled in SCHIP.  This disappointing outcome hopefully will not be the end of the SCHIP battle- there may still be veto-override of the expansion bill and the possibility of new legislation on the horizon.

Altogether, the victories on the state level and the relative failures on the national level signal the growing need for advocates to lobby their state legislatures.  I am pleased and proud that the Reform Movement will be taking a leadership role in this venture.


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Jessie Weiser

About Jessie Weiser

Jessie Weiser is a Program Associate at the Religious Action Center. She was a 2007-2008 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant.

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