Affordable, accessible, quality health care should be seen as a right and a public good. In 2012, there were 48 million people in the United States who were uninsured, including approximately 2.2 million New Yorkers. New York State offers a number of publicly funded programs that provide health care coverage including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Healthy New York and has set up NY State of Health as an insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
Reform Jewish Values and Policy
Reform Jewish tradition teaches us that human life is of infinite value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations. URJ resolutions on “social insurance” for adequate health care date back to 1948 and on a single payer approach to national health care to 1975.
The URJ has consistently supported universal health care coverage. A 1975 URJ Resolution on “Health Care and Health Insurance” called for: a “national comprehensive prepaid single benefit standard health insurance with no deductible, to cover prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in all fields of health care.” Similarly, in a 1976 resolution, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) called on Congress to “enact a comprehensive national health insurance program.”
In 1993, the URJ adopted another Resolution on Reform of the Health Care system, which reiterated its support for previously stated principles, advocated a single-payer system, and encouraged congregations to continue their educational efforts on health care, with a special focus on promoting advocacy by the congregations and their members on health care reform.
In April 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 42 to create New York’s health insurance exchange, a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) signed into law by President Obama in 2010. A key section of the landmark legislation is the American Health Benefit Exchanges program, which requires the creation of a health insurance exchange in all 50 states; the exchanges are designed to help consumers navigate the private insurance system.
The Republican-dominated New York State Senate refused to pass legislation to create a health insurance exchange in 2011, which meant that New York State lost out on the chance to receive millions of federal dollars intended to help with the creation of exchanges. Gov. Cuomo attempted to include the health insurance exchange in budget negotiations but he ultimately had to wield his executive power.
As many as 1.2 million New Yorkers who are uninsured are expected to receive coverage once all provisions of the ACA are implemented. The exchange is called NY State of Health and coverage will begin on January 1, 2014.