Ajcongress Enters Health Care Fray, Calling for Support of Gephardt Bill

The American Jewish Congress has decided to join the health care debate full-force and back U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) health care reform bill.

In a letter to House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.), Phil Baum, newly appointed executive director of AJCongress, wrote: “We have concluded that the comprehensive health care reform bill offered by House Majority Leader Gephardt addresses many of our goals for health care reform, including true universal coverage, reproductive services included in the basic benefits package and long-term care coverage.”

AJCongress decided to endorse Gephardt’s legislation because “it provides true universal coverage by 1999, thereby ensuring effective cost containment,” Baum wrote.

“We always said there would come a time when there would be serious legislative proposals that had a chance of getting enacted, and that time is now,” said Mark Pelavin, AJCongress’ Washington representative. “Now is the time to move beyond enumerating principles which we support and take an active role.”

AJCongress plans to contact members of the House leadership and other members of Congress to push for support.

Other Jewish organizations, while concerned with everything from universal coverage to reproductive rights to long-term care, have not taken a formal stand on any of the pending bills.

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