The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has been busy this week, releasing its policy priorities for the year, and applauding the George Mitchell envoy pick and a Supreme Court decision on sexuall harassment, just on Monday. On Tuesday, they sent a letter to the entire Senate urging the reauthorization and expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, noting that 4 million more children will gain health coverage with passage of the legislation. Here’s the full letter:
I write on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, encompassing over 900 congregations across North America, with a membership of 1.5 million Reform Jews, to urge you to vote for the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. It is also imperative that the final legislation include the Immigrant Children Health Improvement Act (ICHIA), eliminating the burdensome five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children and pregnant women to access services.
Created in 1997 and credited with helping reduce the uninsured rate among children by almost a third, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provides much-needed health coverage to over 7 million children across America. Unfortunately, not all children who qualify for SCHIP receive the benefit: 6 million of the 9 million children who are uninsured in this country qualify for SCHIP but do not receive the benefits. With the expansion of this program in the proposed Senate reauthorization bill, an additional 4 million children will gain coverage.
SCHIP is a crucial program, providing access to quality, affordable, life-saving and preventative care. A 2007 report from health care organization Families USA found that children without insurance were 13 times less likely to have a relationship with a primary care doctor or clinic and were two times less likely to have seen a doctor for a well visit. Children who lack health insurance are twice as likely to die from their injuries after being hospitalized as children who are insured.
Jewish tradition teaches, “By the breath of children, God sustains the world.” In this spirit, we ask you to vote for the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 and make an investment in America’s future by ensuring that 11 million of America’s children, including legal immigrant children, receive the health care that they deserve. By investing in our children, we are investing in our nation’s future.
Rabbi David Saperstein