“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” (Former Senator and Vice President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey)
So – the question is this! Does the Senate’s health care reform bill released yesterday pass this moral test?
Our own Reform movement sharply criticized this Republican Senate bill because it would repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, make severe cuts to Medicaid, get rid of the legal requirement that most Americans have health coverage, and remove federal tax credits to aid Americans in paying for health insurance.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. has called this measure “deeply harmful” and yesterday, the RAC made the following statement:
“The Senate bill revealed this morning is a major undermining of American health care that will hurt Americans most in need: the elderly, the poor, children and people with disabilities…Jewish tradition’s emphasis on caring for the sick and lifting up those in need inspires us to call on Senators to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
Here are some of the specifics in the bill’s provisions:
- It enables insurance companies to charge five times the cost of insurance to people over fifty;
- It denies coverage for maternity care, mental health care, and substance abuse to millions of Americans;
- It dramatically cuts treatments for those who have opioid disorders;
- It defunds Planned Parenthood on which 2.4 million people depend for their health care;
- It has dramatic cuts to Medicare effective over time;
- The following categories of people will be affected: 49% of all births – 64% for all nursing home residents – 30% of adults with disabilities – 40% of all poor – 39% of all children – 76% of poor children – 60% of all children with disabilities
This bill is an attack on the weakest Americans in order to give massive tax cuts for the top 1% of the wealthiest of Americans – consequently, it does indeed fail Hubert Humphrey’s moral test of government.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will issue a cost analysis at the beginning of the week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitchell has insisted that there be a vote before the Fourth of July Congressional recess. For a bill that affects one-sixth of the American economy and impacts negatively the lives of more than 20 million Americans, he refuses to allow time for debate, discussion, or analysis of this bill.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 took one year to pass with massive amounts of House and Senate discussion and more than 200 amendments. Senator Mitch McConnell thinks that Americans and the Senate have discussed health care enough and it’s time to fulfill the President’s and the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, though a great majority of the American people don’t want it replaced.
This is not democracy, nor is it reflective of the humane tradition of America.
What ought we to do?
We have a weekend to have our voices be heard and we should make them heard by calling the ten fence-sitting Senators who have not as yet signed onto this Senate bill (per Families USA).
We ought to flood their Washington DC offices with calls and emails to demand that they vote no on this Senate bill.
The ten include Senator Susan Collins (R. Maine), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R. Alaska), Senator Bill Cassidy (R. Louisiana), Senator Jeff Flake (R. AZ), Senator Cory Gardner (R. Colorado), Senator Rob Portman (R. Ohio), Senator Ted Cruz (R. Texas), Senator Rand Paul (R. Kentucky), Senator Mike Lee (R. Utah), and Senator Ben Sasse (R. Nebraska).
We Jews are inspired by the example set over many centuries in Jewish tradition which instructs communities to provide health care to their inhabitants. In RAMBAM’s Mishneh Torah (Hilchot De’ot IV: 23) it’s written:
כל עיר שאין בה עשרה דברים האלו אין תלמיד חכם רשאי לדור בתוכה ואלו הן
“A Torah Sage is not permitted to live in a community which does not have the following: a doctor.”
Please make those calls!