Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

Patients' Bill of Rights

Resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis, May 1999

We are taught that when God created the universe we were endowed with the ability to become God's partners in curing illness. Providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for society as well. It is for this reason that Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar and himself a physician, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents. (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot IV: 23)

Based on this tradition, the Central Conference of American Rabbis has repeatedly stressed the importance of health care and has called for a national health care plan which grants universal access to primary and acute health care and which will provide for cost containment, equitable financing and assure quality of services.

Health care consumers and their advocates have become increasingly concerned about maintaining quality of health care. Within the health care industry there are often wide variations in costs, quality, access, and choice of doctors and treatments. There are numerous reported instances of failures to give patients timely and proper treatment, due to cost-cutting measures, limited numbers of doctors in health plans, and denial of access to treatment options. Although health plans have denied access to procedures that could have helped them, many plans cannot be held accountable for decisions they make that lead to worsened health or even death.

THEREFORE the Central Conference of American Rabbis resolves to:

  1. Support the following rights outlined in the bi-partisan Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry's "Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities." Consumers have the right to:

  2. Receive accurate, easily understood information;
  3. Choose health care professionals and plans. All health plan networks should provide access to sufficient numbers and types of health services to assure that all covered services will be accessible without unreasonable delay, and consumers should be able to access specialists, women's health services, and transitional care;
  4. Access emergency services without prior authorization;
  5. Participate fully in treatment decisions and receive full disclosure from their doctors, without "gag clauses" or prohibitions that keep health care workers from advocating on behalf of their patients;
  6. Obtain coverage and treatment with respect, and without discrimination;
  7. Communicate with health care providers in confidence and have the confidentiality of their individually identifiable health care information protected;
  8. Access a fair and efficient process for resolving differences with their health plans, health care providers, and the institutions that serve them, including a rigorous system of internal review and an independent system of external review.
  9. Urge Congress to pass, and the President to sign, a patients' bill of rights that would include the above mentioned protections.