Tag Archives: Health Care

Mental Health Awareness Month: A Blog Series

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to focus on awareness of mental illnesses and the importance of mental wellness for all.

Experts estimate that more than one in four American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, and this contributes to soaring economic costs and, more importantly, greatly damaged lives. Whether or not we have personally experienced a mental illness, no family or community is immune. Read more…

Evaluating the Affordable Care Act—And Moving Forward

As Jews, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance, and the Affordable Care Act—significant parts of which have been implemented in the last few months—is a crucial first step.

Millions of people are benefitting from the new options and standards enacted into law by the Affordable Care Act. Last night, the White House announced that over the course of the open enrollment period, more than eight million people enrolled in the online Health Insurance Marketplaces—exceeding initial expectations by about a million people. But that is not the full story of the law’s impact. Three million young adults under the age of 26 have gained coverage through their parents’ plans, and another 3 million people were enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for which enrollment continues year round. In a particularly underrated development, 5 million people have enrolled in private plans that meet ACA standards outside of the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Still, almost 6 million Americans remain uninsured due solely to the refusal of 24 states to expand Medicaid.

In sum, surveys show that about 4% of American adults are newly insured this year, with the newly insured skewing younger and less wealthy than those who already had insurance. It is clear that an improving economy, coupled with the many positive reforms of the Affordable Care Act, are helping more Americans get covered.

But millions of Americans still do lack insurance. While that number is estimated to decrease in the coming years, under the auspices of the ACA there will always remain some Americans who, for one reason or another, do not obtain coverage. The Reform Movement supports the Affordable Care Act because it is doubtless helping to expand coverage and to improve standards of care. But our policy has long stated that, “in the United States there should be made available national comprehensive prepaid single-benefit standard health insurance with no deductible to cover prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation in all fields of health care. This insurance should be made available to all on an equitable basis according to their ability to pay.”

That means that while enrollment in ACA plans must remain a key goal, our advocacy should also focus on continuing to move the ball forward on healthcare policy. In Vermont, authorities are working to implement Green Mountain Care, which would be the nation’s first single-payer system. The eyes of healthcare advocates, and the Reform Movement, will be watching their efforts. In the meantime though, we can and should work within the context the Affordable Care Act—the law of the land—to bring health care access to as many Americans as possible.

Seder plate

A Tomato on the Seder Plate?

Passover is holiday full of symbolism. We eat the bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip parsley in saltwater to recall the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar the Israelites were forced to use while building structures for Pharaoh and their Egyptian oppressors. These traditional symbols have paved the way for contemporary symbolism, allowing modern Jews to use the Seder plate as a place for social or political expression.

In recent years, placing an orange on a Seder plate has become a statement with various interpretations. Introduced by Jewish feminist and scholar, Susannah Heschel, the orange has come to represent the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the Jewish tradition. In general, the orange is meant to symbolize the rejection of the notion that “a woman, [gay person or other historically marginalized person] belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

This year, I invite you to include another item on your Seder plate, a symbol of food justice. Read more…

Marketplaces Hit Critical Enrollment Goal

This week, in the closing days of the open enrollment period, the Administration made several key announcements regarding the Affordable Care Act. First, President Obama announced that over 6 million people have signed up for health insurance through state and federal exchanges, and traffic on healthcare.gov is hitting record highs. The number of enrollees is significant, since that figure is the total number of enrollees that the Congressional Budget Office estimated after the initial troubles with rollout. In addition to those six million Americans who have bought insurance on the exchange, it is still unclear how many additional people bought newly-available insurance plans directly from insurers, outside the exchanges. Many estimate that this figure could double the number of Americans who have obtained insurance.

Read more…

It’s The Final Countdown

It’s the home stretch. The final countdown. The beginning of the end. For what, you ask? You probably already know. Read more…

Substance Abuse: Keeping it in Check on Purim

As many well know, the Talmud tells us that “a person has to get drunk on Purim until he cannot distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai’” (Megillah 7b). To do so is a mitzvah, but one that should be carried out in moderation.

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President Obama at Temple Emanu-El

ACA Enrollment Deadline Approaches

It’s March—which signals the home stretch of the open enrollment period that will end on March 31st. Since open enrollment began in October, over 4 million Americans have enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the federal and state-based Marketplaces. In addition, between October and January almost 9 million Americans were determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), largely due to significant expansions of those programs under the Affordable Care Act.

Read more…

Halting Another Polio Crisis

In 2002, there were 1,600 polio cases in India.  In 2009, there were 741, nearly half of the world’s cases.  On January 13, 2014, India celebrated its third consecutive year of being polio-free.  This momentous accomplishment was marked throughout the worldRead more…