Resolution on Health Care in the United States

WHEREAS human life is of infinite value (Genesis 1:27) and preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations (pikuah nefesh);

WHEREAS the revered rabbinic scholar and physician, Maimonides, taught that health care was a primary communal responsibility (Mishneh Torah Hilkhot De’ot 4:23);

WHEREAS the Shulkhan Arukh states, “Doctors are required to reduce their fees for the poor. Where that is still not sufficient the community should subsidize the patient.” (Yoreh Deah 249);

WHEREAS the Rabbinical Assembly published a “Rabbinic Letter on the Poor”* which taught that it is society’s responsibility to provide for basic health care and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards passed a teshuvah** that Jewish law requires that people be provided with a decent minimum of health benefits that preserves life and includes preventive care;

WHEREAS an estimated 47 million Americans (approx. 16% of the population) are uninsured, including 9 million children, and additional millions are under-insured;

WHEREAS un and under-insured individuals are less likely to seek preventive or even timely medical care because of economic concerns leading to unnecessary pain and suffering; and

WHEREAS the United States of America is one of the few industrialized nations of the world that has not found a way to insure that all its citizens have adequate health coverage.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the United States government to establish affordable health care for all Americans;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that members of the Rabbinical  Assembly advocate with their state appointed and elected officials for expanded access to health insurance;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage Conservative  Movement organizations to strive to make health coverage available to their full time employees; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly work together with the other arms of the Conservative Movement on this endeavor as well as partnering with other coalitions working towards the goal of affordable health care.

* “You  Shall Strenghten Them:” A Rabbinic Letter on the Poor by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff. A publication of the Joint Social Action Commission of the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 1999.

** “Responsibilities for the Provision of Health Care,” by Rabbis Elliot N. Dorff and Aaron L. Mackler, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, 1998.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, February, 2008