— by Antoinette Krauss, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
The Affordable Care Act was written to give states the flexibility to operate their own state-based exchanges and be the innovators of health care reform. Regrettably, Governor Corbett chose to reject this opportunity and instead handed the development of this new marketplace to the federal government.
Either way, Pennsylvania families and small businesses will finally have access to quality, affordable coverage through this new marketplace on January 1st , 2014. Pennsylvania's health insurance exchange will assure folks have high quality choices at affordable prices, and an easier time finding and purchasing coverage. It will bring stability, certainty and security to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Through the establishment of this new marketplace, and by accepting the new federal funding to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, Pennsylvania can cover up to 1 million residents who are uninsured today. The Affordable Care Act remains on track to bring security and peace of mind to Pennsylvania families.
We urge Governor Corbett to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop Pennsylvania's Health Insurance Marketplace and to accept Federal dollars available to strengthen our current Medicaid program.
Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) released a microsite, The Jewish Voter Test, asking Jewish voters if they agree or disagree with basic questions underlying some of the most pressing domestic and foreign policy issues of our time.
"Every Jewish voter faces a clear choice between two candidates with almost polar opposite stances on so many issues that are vitally important to our community," said David A. Harris, President and CEO of NJDC. "This new website will offer American Jews a fun, easy and factual test to see where they really stand on the political spectrum."
The quiz leads participants through the following "yes" and "no" questions:
Last week, John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John's Pizza - a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser - announced that the Affordable Care Act will raise the cost of his pizza 11 to 14 cents each, or 15 to 20 cents per order.
But local pizza historian Brian Dwyer, creator and spokesperson for Pizza Brain, says "As a pizza consumer, I will gladly pay 20 cents more per pie if that meant that people and their families got health insurance."
"The whole idea of a pizza shop is that it is a community hub, where strangers can meet each other and share a slice of pizza. Pizza is so inherently communal that to complain about 11 cents a slice is a good indicator that the owner of Papa Johns has lost touch with the heart of what pizza is really about; community."
When Pizza Brain opens in September 2012, it will display Brian Dwyer's collection of pizza memorabilia, the Guinness record holder for the biggest such collection in the world. It will also serve pizza.
Brian, a small business owner says he is excited about the prospect of providing his employees health insurance. "We want to provide health insurance for our employees. As small business owners we want to provide our employees with the best possible options. To be able to give back to the people that work for and with us is what Pizza Brain is all about."
Luckily for Brian and the other owners of Pizza Brain, under the Affordable Care Act small businesses who provide health insurance to their employees qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35% to offset the cost of insurance.
And beginning in 2014, small businesses with generally fewer than 100 employees can shop in an Affordable Insurance Exchange, which gives them the leveraging power similar to what a large business enjoys when purchasing health insurance.
In an op-ed published by JTA, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — is in lockstep with Jewish values and traditions. Emanuel wrote:
The duty to heal the sick and provide for the poor are deep moral imperatives in the Jewish tradition. Combined with the biblical command to treat the stranger as yourself because you were once a stranger in a strange land, this duty transforms our obligations beyond the worthy interest in promoting the health and well-being of our own community. Our mothers can't just want their children to be doctors to Jewish people, they must heal whomever is sick-Jew and non-Jew.
This element of Jewish philosophy makes the Jews' stake in health care reform enormous. It is not just about providing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans-caring for children who might not get the vaccinations or the checkups they need, or diagnosing cancer or other diseases early, or making sure people don't have to choose between bankruptcy and having a needed surgical procedure. For Jews it is about more; it is about holding true to our tradition.
After 100 years of trying to achieve comprehensive health care reform-an effort that started with Teddy Roosevelt and continued with FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton-Congress finally passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010. Once and for all, the Supreme Court affirmed that the law, particularly the individual mandate, is constitutional...
Because of this health care reform, children can no longer be denied care due to pre-existing conditions. Patients can't lose coverage when they get sick. Insurance companies can't impose lifetime caps on care or raise premiums without reason. Medical research will proceed faster, as insurers must cover the cost of participation on clinical trials. And all of this reform comes while still allowing preserving the traditional physician-patient relationship...
These changes will save lives. They will perfect our union and help repair our world. Yet Republican leaders want to reverse course...
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today slammed the House Republican Caucus for continuing their quixotic campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act — the same bill supported by the vast majority of American Jews and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
This effort — the 31st such vote by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — proves once again that Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) care significantly more about politics than policy, as this effort will simply not succeed. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been found constitutional by the Supreme Court and will provide life-saving health insurance to millions of Americans. Sadly, House Republicans would rather waste time with one more unnecessary vote than focus on working to further improve on health care reform or focusing on job creation. Most Jewish Americans — along with countless others — supported Obamacare and millions of Americans will benefit from the legislation as it is implemented. It is way past time for Republicans to cease tilting at windmills and quit playing politics with Americans' health insurance.
Jewish law and tradition have much to say about taking an active role in guarding one's health-and the health of our fellow man. Health and life are bedrock Jewish values, to the extent that saving someone (pikuach nefesh) supersedes even the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) notes, 'If one has medicine that a sick person needs, it is forbidden to charge more than the appropriate price.' This statement of Jewish law now becomes the spirit of America's national health policy, and I could not be more proud.
The Jewish community has long supported a national health-care policy that includes everyone, and traditionally has viewed health care as a communal responsibility. This central Jewish tenet is consistent with a society's prioritizing of health and safety of everyone in its midst and is demonstrated by the commitment that American Jews have made to supporting hospitals and health services through our communal institutions.
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network is thrilled that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance. The reasoning used in Chief Justice Roberts' decision is totally consistent with the argument we presented in our amicus brief — specifically that the mandate and penalty are essentially a tax, which Congress has the constitutional right to impose. This is an important step in providing high quality, affordable health care for all Americans. The ACA, whose implementation depended on the mandate in exchange for the health insurance industry's agreement to stop using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage or make it unaffordable, will now progress to create manifold other changes in the health insurance and health delivery systems. JSPAN will remain vigilant in assuring the implementation of the Act, including the national and state levels.
In response to the Supreme Court Decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Board of Directors of OHALAH, the trans-denomination Jewish Renewal association that includes over 180 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Jewish life, released the following statement:
The historic ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(ACA) is a victory for those who believe, as we do, that health care is a fundamental human right. The ACA has the chance to help the nearly forty million currently uninsured Americans receive coverage and the millions of underinsured who will see their situation improved. It is our hope that this decision will help remedy and heal the injustices and inefficiencies in the United States health care system, by guaranteeing preventative and emergency care, affordable prescription drugs, and insurance despite pre-existing conditions, among other benefits. 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 spiritual aspirations.
It is also our hope and prayer that this decision, although decided by a divided court, will begin to allow for healing of the deep divisions in the United States that this issue has caused, and allow us as a nation to work together towards our common goals and solving our common challenges.
The entertainer Andy Griffith died today at the age of 86. His career included many roles in television, cinema and theater. He was an accomplished actor, director, producer, singer and writer, but he is perhaps best known for his role in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) where he played the Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.
In the clip shown to the right, we see how standards have changed over the years.
"Whether a man is guilty or innocent, we have to find that out by due process of the law."
Surely, Sheriff Andy Taylor would not have approved of the Patriot Act.
Several organizations issued statements following today's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
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.
Repubican Jewish Coalition
The Supreme Court has rendered judgement on the constitutionality of Obamacare. It remains up to Congress and the American people to judge whether it is good policy. The serious negative effects this law will have on the economy, on jobs, on medical research and development, and on the quality of health care in America, are very troubling. The American people will have the opportunity to express their opinion on the wisdom of Obamacare in this election year.
National Jewish Democratic Council
The National Jewish Democratic Council -- indeed so much of the American Jewish community -- is deeply gratified by today's ruling. We are thankful that the Court affirmed the core constitutionality of this landmark legislation that will bring health care to tens of millions more Americans. The Court confirmed today what liberal and conservative legal scholars have said all along — that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is constitutional and well within Congress' jurisdiction to regulate. Now is the time for conservative critics of the President — especially the godfather of core components of the bill, Mitt Romney — to accept Obamacare and its provisions as the constitutional law of the land. We look forward to the continuing implementation of Obamacare in the months and years to come.
The Jewish Social Action Policy Network held its 2012 Annual Meeting at the Pyramid Club in Center City Philadelphia on June 6, 2012. Guest speaker, bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., captivated his audience with the many reasons he is "optimistic about the future of the American healthcare system" and why he believes that it will be "vastly improved" by the end of the decade.
Don't miss your opportunity to hear a White House insider's view of the future of American healthcare. A top healthcare insider is coming to The Pyramid Club on June 6 to address JSPAN and you can be there.
Who: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, ex-White House advisor on healthcare (also brother of the Mayor of Chicago), will speak on the future of healthcare reform and American medicine.
Emanuel, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, is well known on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times and in the media. He headed healthcare at the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2009-10, during the design and Congressional passage of the Affordable Care Act.
When: The event is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday June 6.
Where: The Pyramid Club, 1735 Market Street, Philadelphia. With a great dessert buffet, the cost is $10 (free to JSPAN members with 2012 dues paid). Discount parking is available.
Here's something odd: There's nothing on Mitt Romney's Web site about the sixth anniversary of Romneycare. No news releases. No blog posts. Nothing.
And yet, Romneycare is doing pretty well. As you can see in Sarah's charts, it's covered about 95 percent of Massachusetts adults. Premiums are growing more slowly than the national average in both the employer and individual markets. And the law is, perhaps most importantly, very popular in Massachusetts.
Back in March, Ezra Klein interviewed "MIT economist Jon Gruber, who helped design the Massachusetts health reforms, on Romney's puzzling reticence to tout his signature accomplishment. It's relevant today, too."
At many seders, the topic of politics will more than likely come up-often because one of the guests received one of the many false and malicious emails floating around the internet. That dinner guest should be replied to with these four questions:
Why has President Obama provided record amounts of military aid to Israel — including double the amount of supplemental funding for missile defense programs, like the Iron Dome, that are saving Israeli lives today?
Why has President Obama worked so hard and succeeded at uniting the world against Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program, while voting with Israel 100% of the time at the United Nations — earning the plaudits of Israel's leaders?
Why has President Obama achieved the historic passage of "Obamacare," which has already permitted 2.5 million young adults to remain on their parents' health care plans — and will end discrimination for those with pre-existing conditions, ultimately providing coverage to 34 million more Americans?
Why has President Obama fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, keeping our commitment to our seniors — and our collective commitment to help those in need through shared responsibility?
The answer to all of these questions is:
President Obama cares deeply about the safety and security of the Jewish state. He has been Israel's leading advocate from day one and has done more than any other President to meaningfully bolster its defenses and provide for its future. He also cares deeply about the welfare of all Americans, including our seniors and the needy — and our commitment to them.
For these reasons, President Obama deserves our thanks.
Editor-in-Chief Asher Smith: Earlier today, President Obama remarked to NBC on the degree of similarity between his health-care reform policies and those that you passed in Massachusetts under your term as governor. How is the health-care reform legislation signed by Obama last week significantly different from the policies that you passed in Massachusetts?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well, there are similarities. And some of the best features of his health-care plan are like ours - such as, we do not allow insurance companies to drop people who develop illnesses, our insurance is entirely portable, virtually all of our citizens are insured and there is an individual responsibility for getting insurance.
The big differences are that he raised taxes; we did not. He cut Medicare; we did not. He put in place price controls; we did not. And his is a federal program — a one-size-fits-all solution — and in our view — in my view, the best approach is a state-by-state creation of programs designed to fit the needs of citizens of each state.
Smith: Do you have any regrets now about signing Massachusetts' version of health-care reform into law?
Romney: I am proud of what we accomplished. It was a step forward. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than what we had before.
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