Saperstein: Historic Ruling Fulfills Moral Obligation to Provide Health Care



In response to the Supreme Court Decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

Today is a bright day for our nation, and, especially, for those whose access to health care is fragile. Today’s historic ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a victory for those whose believe, as we do, that health care is a fundamental right, and, especially given the lead opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, a victory for the court itself.

The ACA now still has the chance to help the nearly 40 million currently uninsured Americans receive coverage and the millions of underinsured see their situation improved.

For too long, the U.S. health care system has been plagued by injustices and inefficiencies. Today’s ruling ensures that the ACA will go forward and Americans will now have the chance to see the benefits the individual mandate can bring to their health, such as preventative and emergency care, affordable prescription drugs, and insurance despite pre-existing conditions. We are also pleased that the Medicaid expansion stands, helping lower-income individuals get the health care they deserve.

The ACA can now bring the health insurance system closer to reflecting our highest aspirations, not the lowest common denominator.

Our Reform congregations have been at the forefront of advocacy on behalf of health insurance reform in their states and at the national level. They have led the faith community’s call to heed the lesson of Maimonides, the revered medieval Jewish physician and scholar, who placed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city should offer its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). We are proud of the work they have done.

Today, the Supreme Court has spoken and spoken powerfully. Now our nation must move forward together.

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Religious Action Center

8 Responses to “Saperstein: Historic Ruling Fulfills Moral Obligation to Provide Health Care”

  1. Do you want politically appointed advisory review boards which consist of members who do not practice medicine deciding on your health care? If yes, you are a fool or love rationing. If a test or procedure gets into disuse because a board decides not to pay for a procedure, it could kill the patient.

    The omission of quality of care is a serious error. We have a lack of doctors now and the addition of millions to the rolls will cause the quality of care to further deteriorate. The more an advisory board restricts procedures, the worse it is for a patient. The cost of this program is outrageous and the tax imposed by this bill will bankrupt the country.

    Yes, there are issues with the current system such as tort reform, an open market for insurance, and maintenance of coverage but the people don’t have to be taxed to fix these issues. When will they ever learn that the government almost never manages major programs successfully and government intervention removes accountability and runs up costs – if you need examples look at any government agency – Post Office, Amtrack…. You don’t spend your way to success. You manage with accountability.

    I am tired of this left-wing nonsense masquerading as religious leadership. I will never again contribute to a Jewish “cause” managed by lefties.

  2. William Anderson Reply July 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Unlike the previous writers I’ll attack from the left. I do agree that there is a tendency to equate “health care” with “health insurance”. I see this as a victory only because it provides some increased insurance coverage (the gateway to health care in USA) It is a start. It appears that very small employers aren’t covered. Persons with incomes of 134% of poverty level aren’t entitled to medicaid. Will they really be able to pay for a family health insurance policy. I believe that many low income people may choose to pay the penalty rather than opt to buy through an exchange. I think hospitals (who will see fewer people with no insurance) and drug manufacturers (now you can afford our products) are the big winners here. Individual winners-middle/upper middle class families with pre-existing conditions, 22-26 year old children, and catastrophic illnesses. But it is a start

  3. I’m afraid that many American’s don’t know what is really included in the AHCA. Not only is this an important step to provide medical services, but also health care to members of our society, but there are substantial cost savings built into the legislation. Being involved in the health care industry and having worked abroad, I can tell you this legislation is an excellent step in the right direction. Of course if one believes health care is a privelege for the wealthy and not a right for society, then any involvement by any government would not satisfy them.

  4. Carl N Steeg, MD Reply July 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Rabbi Saperstein,

    I wonder how closely you examined all the facts and issues regarding the ACA. Remember that CJ Roberts did not feel the mandate was constitutional. Remember that the majority of Americans remain opposed to the bill. Remember that the Court ruled that the Medicaid issue remains with the states, and not the federal government – a number of states have already opted out.

    Only time will tell how effective this “patchwork” act will actually be. I certainly agree that reform is necessary, but don’t believe this is the way to achieve it.

  5. Hersh Adlerstein Reply July 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I hope that I am not the only one who heartily agrees with Rabbi Saperstein, because the two comments above are so negative. Moral obligation, it seems, is less important than most of us believe, I guess, so why did we fight the secession of the South when all they wanted was to preserve their way of life, which was based on slavery? After all, their right to income would be diminished if slavery was outlawed.

    And didn’t Social Security and Medicare (not to mention Medicaid)represent government toking money from our pockets and giving it only to a limited number of Americans. And we already force u7s to pay6 for public schools, which again is unfair.

    You get the idea. Hopefully there are vast numbers of those reading this who will join me in applauding Rabbi Saperstein for articulating a true Jewish (and human) viewpoint on health care. Mazal Tov Rabbi, you are an inspiration to thinking Americans, Jew, Christians, secular of devout, who believe that Torah teaches us how to live in this turbulent society

  6. Rabbi Saperstein,

    The healthcare system has been “plagued by injustices and inefficiencies” primarily as a result of government’s growth in the system. Indeed, the government is by far the largest provider in the healthcare system. Obamacare seeks to remedy this problem with more of the same.

    One of the many failed premises of Obamacare is the conceit that health insurance is somehow equivalent to healthcare. If 30 million more consumers are added to the system without a proportianate increase in providers, the law of supply and demand means that availability will go down and prices will rise.

    I agree that healthcare is a moral issue, but the RAC seems to believe that morality flows one way; to which I would ask the following questions:

    What is moral about relieving the citizens of the wealthiest society in history of the responsibility for provisioning of their own healthcare?

    What other core responsibilities of adulthood should the citizenry be relieved of?

    If as the RAC insists there is a moral obligation for the state to provide healthcare to its citizens, what about the moral obligations of the welfare recipient back to the taxpayer who provides the benefit?

    If it provides your healthcare, doesn’t the government also have an implicit ethical obligation to regulate your behavior in order to improve outcomes and reduce costs?

    Does the government reserve the right to withhold care if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle as per its directives?

    • What a series of right-wing rhetorical questions. It’s too bad that those who object so strenuously to the Rabbi’s (and RAC’s) position cannot deal with the immediate issues, rather than relying instead on old, worn-out rhetoric.

  7. If the U.S. Govt takes up all the causes that the RAC considers as moral obligations as listed on the right side of this wep page , we can go bankrupt even faster .The Constitution says nothing about moral obligation or gauranteeing benefits from cradle to grave . I wish the URJ – RAC would stop using my MUM contributions to push their leftist agenda .

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