June 28, 2012
HEALTH CARE DECISION: L.A. Jewish community reacts
The following are some of the statements from community leaders and from Jewish organizations that were issued following the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act:
Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center:
“Access to affordable healthcare for all is vital to our nation and remains a key piece of the legislation that was upheld today by the U.S. Supreme Court. Cedars-Sinai remains strongly committed to that goal, as well as to the other key factors transforming healthcare, including accountability, quality and value. Thanks to the extraordinary dedication of Cedars-Sinai’s physicians and staff to our patients and to community health, we’re in a strong position in this new environment, and look forward to continuing to serve the communities of Southern California and beyond, as we have for more than 100 years.”
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a national coordinating body for local community relations councils:
“As we study today’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, we are struck by the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the Court’s process and deliberations. The rule of law is central to the American legal system, the protection of civil and human rights, and the viability of democracy. The ACA is the law of the land and universal, affordable, and accessible healthcare coverage for all Americans remains a compelling policy goal and moral imperative. Over the next few months, as the Court’s decision is parsed and the ACA is implemented, we will work with Congress and the Administration continually to improve our healthcare system and governance. We are particularly focused on the implications for Medicaid, a vital program that ensures healthcare for the most vulnerable among us. Today, we are reminded of the genius of American system of laws and government.”
Congressman Brad Sherman, who graduated Harvard Law School with Chief Justice Roberts in 1979:
“Today Chief Justice Roberts provided a well-reasoned legal analysis based on precedent.
In doing so, he helped bolster confidence in the United States Supreme Court, while dispelling the view that all controversial cases are decided on party lines.
In his opinion, he noted that every reasonable construction of a statute must be considered, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality. He then showed that for over 100 years the Supreme Court has looked at the substance of an enactment to determine whether it is a tax, rather than whether Congress chose to label the enactment a tax.
He then demonstrated that taxes designed to influence behavior are hardly new, and that some of the very first taxes enacted by the Federal Government were designed to deter the purchase of imported manufactured goods in order to foster the growth of domestic industry. In fact almost every tax influences behavior, and often influencing behavior is the primary intent. For example, cigarette taxes are designed to reduce smoking as much as they are to provide revenue.
Roberts then pointed out that the payment due from those who do not purchase health insurance is not a punishment to be imposed on ‘outlaws.’ Rather it is estimated that 4 million people every year will choose to pay the IRS rather than buy insurance and that those people are acting reasonably and lawfully—they are not wrongdoers being punished.”
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist organization, had filed an amicus curriae brief in the case on behalf of its 330,000 members. The following statement is from Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah:
“Central to Hadassah’s mission is the commitment to enhance the health of people worldwide through the organization’s support of medical care and research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Hadassah is devoted to strengthening the healthcare system in the United States and has a long history of advocating for comprehensive healthcare reform. As a fervent supporter of economic security for women and families, Hadassah recognizes that lack of coverage compromises the health and economic well-being of millions of uninsured individuals, as well as our nation as a whole. Hadassah maintains its support for healthcare access and will continue to advocate for policies that ensure affordable coverage and improve the quality of care for every American.”
The Rabbinical Assembly, the international body of Conservative rabbis, affirmed health care as a Jewish moral imperative and applauded the Court decision.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the RA’s executive vice president, and Rabbi Gerry Skolnik, RA president, released the following statement:
President Obama entered office on a message of hope for all Americans, modeled most clearly in the vision of affordable health care. Americans without access to affordable health care cannot sustain hope for themselves nor for their families. The President’s vision is consistent with Jewish tradition, which is unambiguous about the requirement of a just and decent society to provide a basic level of health care. We are gratified to see that American society, whose values we also cherish, also lives up to this standard.
As an international community of 1,600 Conservative rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly has been continuously supportive of universal health care. The 16th-century compilation of Jewish law, the Shulhan Arukh, states that where doctors reducing fees to care for the poor is not sufficient, the community must provide a fund. Consistent with this and many other related dicta in Jewish tradition, the Rabbinical Assembly passed resolutions on health care in 2002, 2008 and 2011, in support of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
All people deserve access to affordable and equitable healthcare coverage, and we join other people of faith in their staunch desire for a U.S health care system that offers health, wholeness and human dignity for all. Today’s decision brings us significantly forward on that moral path, and the members of the Rabbinical Assembly will continue to promote a system of health care that is inclusive, affordable, accessible and accountable.”