Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement on the American Health Care Act

May 4, 2017

The Central Conference of American Rabbis opposes the American Health Care Act as adopted by the United States House of Representatives today and urges the United States Senate to reject or substantially alter it.

Since Moses (Numbers 12:13), rabbis have prayed for healing. Jewish leaders since the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 5) have called upon people of all faiths to seek the finest health care available. Sages since the Middle Ages (Yoreh De’ah 249:16) have called upon communities to assure health care for the neediest among us. Reform Judaism, from its earliest days, has called for women’s rights and equality.

The bill approved today would deprive Americans of access to quality care and access to care. It would particularly harm Americans with preexisting conditions, who could be forced to choose between bankruptcy and imperiling their health. Reform rabbis are particularly taken aback that the legislation adopted today would give states the option of seeking waivers to exclude maternity coverage or prenatal care from mandatory services. The AHCA would also disproportionately harm low-income Americans and people with disabilities through an 880 billion dollar cut to Medicaid that will leave millions uninsured.

In March, the CCAR Board called for any replacement of the Affordable Care Act to include, among other conditions:

  1. Assurance that no American can be denied coverage nor charged extra for coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions;
  2. Requirement that all health insurance programs cover preventative services at no cost to the individual;
  3. Parity for women’s health care services, including contraceptive coverage;
  4. Maintenance of all qualified providers, including Planned Parenthood, as authorized providers under Medicare and Medicaid; and
  5. Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, or marital status.

Today’s legislation violates all of these principles. Reform rabbis denounce today’s congressional vote, and we vow to work with the U.S. Senate to adopt much better legislation.

Rabbi David E. Stern           Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                            Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis