Optimistic on America's Healthcare Future

JSPAN Newsletter - June 15, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

In this Issue:
Newsletter: June 15, 2012
Ezekiel Emanuel at JSPAN Annual Meeting: Optimistic on America's Healthcare Future
By Deborah Weinstein

The Jewish Social Action Policy Network held its 2012 Annual Meeting at the Pyramid Club in Center City Philadelphia on June 6, 2012. Guest speaker, bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., captivated his audience with the many reasons he is "optimistic about the future of the American healthcare system" and why he believes that it will be "vastly improved" by the end of the decade.

Dr. Emanuel expressed confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will find the Affordable Care Act constitutional when the Justices hand down their decision on the healthcare reform law later this month. In his view, there is "No doubt it is constitutional." "Legally, this is an open and shut case," he said.

The Court can and, he believes, will uphold the Act on grounds relating to the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Commerce Clause and the federal government's taxing powers. Extolling the landmark passage of the Act by Congress (which he helped to craft), Emanuel traced what he described as "100 years of effort" by former U.S. Presidents and others to reform the country's healthcare system.

The new chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and Vice-Provost for Global Initiatives, Emanuel is also an Op-Ed contributor to The New York Times and founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institute of Health. During the Obama administration's development of the Affordable Care Act, he served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and on the National Economic Council.

Dr. Emanuel began his remarks by focusing on the magnitude of the cost of the country's healthcare system, which he said is the largest in the world. According to Emanuel, in 2010, the country spent $2.6 trillion dollars on healthcare, up to 50 per cent more per person than the two other highest-spending countries, Norway and Switzerland. The level of U.S. healthcare spending makes it the fifth largest economy in the world. It is growing by $100 million every year.

Despite this level of spending, Emanuel dubbed the quality of healthcare in this country as "average, no matter how you measure it." "On no metric is this a healthcare system we should be proud of," he said. It is a system that "doesn't cover 50 million Americans" and where there is a 20 per cent chance of re-admission to a hospital within 30 days after discharge. This, he said, is both "indefensible" and "unacceptable."

Viewing the present time as a "transition period when there is a lot of uncertainty and change," Dr. Emanuel believes the system will be vastly improved by 2020. He envisions a healthcare system of the future that will be more cost conscious, more focused on higher quality of care and designed to provide less unnecessary care. He predicted that the healthcare system in this country will do a better job of coordinating care and rely on improved metrics about quality of care and assessment of doctors. "Comparative effectiveness research," he said, "will provide us with better understanding of what treatments work. We have examples of systems that work" and know "solutions exist already." The challenges going forward as Dr. Emanuel sees it will be to "invent ways to replicate solutions."

At the conclusion of his presentation, Dr. Emanuel took questions from the audience, including long-time JSPAN members and guests. JSPAN Board President Brian Gralnick and incoming President Lynn Zeitlin, Esquire, concluded the formal portion of the program with a brief discussion of JSPAN, what its mission is as an organization, the impact it has already had, and how it plans to expand its reach in the future. President Zeitlin also recognized outgoing Board Treasurer Stephen Applebaum and JSPAN Policy Center Chair Susan Myers for their valuable contributions and diligent work for the organization.


JSPAN Board Welcomes New Officers and Directors
The JSPAN Board of Directors is pleased to welcome three new Directors: Adrienne Jacoby, Rabbi George Stern and Hon. Babette Josephs. The Board also announced the election of JSPAN officers for the coming year including: President, Lynn Zeitlin, Esquire; Vice Presidents, Judah Labovitz, Esquire, Mark Newman and Burt Siegel; Secretary/General Counsel, Stewart Weintraub, Esquire and Treasurer, Ken Myers, Esquire. The Board also extends its appreciation for the valuable and important work of Susan Myers who is stepping down as JSPAN Policy Center Chair and Stephen Applebaum who has served as the organization's Treasurer.


JSPAN Opposes PA Whole Women's Health Funding Priorities Act, HB 2405
The JSPAN Board of Directors recently approved a resolution opposing Pennsylvania House Bill 2405, "The Whole Women's Health Funding Priorities Act" and any other efforts to defund family planning services in Pennsylvania, as follows:

"JSPAN opposes House Bill 2405 and any attempts to remove public funding for family planning providers who perform abortions like Planned Parenthood. JSPAN recognizes the life-saving services offered by these healthcare providers and is extremely concerned with the public health crisis that could ensure should the funding be eliminated. Women turn to these providers for their annual gynecological exams, breast wellness exams, cervical cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy prevention, high blood pressure screening and smoking cessation programs. Thousands of women throughout Pennsylvania will have nowhere to turn for affordable, high-quality preventive health services especially during a time when many are uninsured or underinsured. JSPAN opposes taking away vital, life-saving services and any other effort to defund family planning services in Pennsylvania."


Bill Would Steer Pennsylvania State Funds Away from Planned Parenthood
By Michael Macagnone
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
May 23, 2012

HARRISBURG -- State money would be steered away from Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers that perform abortions in Pennsylvania under a state House proposal unveiled today.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said the bill would end the "flow of taxpayer money to support abortionists" during a press conference introducing the bill.

[read more]


What's So Jewish about Father's Day?
Posted on May 13, 2012
The PJ Library Blog

HONORING OUR FATHERS AND MOTHERS is an everyday Mitzvah. So, what's particularly Jewish about the third Sunday in June?


The fifth Commandment tells us clearly we must honor our parents. According to traditional Jewish understanding, this means honoring them not just on one day, but every day. Does this mean Father's Day is an unnecessary holiday?

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield tries to answer this question (and other related ones) in his New York Jewish Week opinion piece, titled "Father's Day: It's a Mitzvah." According to Rabbi Hirschfield, Father's Day presents an opportunity to reconnect with the everyday commandment, along with our parents themselves.

[read more]


Who Are Our Jewish Fathers?
By Leah Berkenwald
The Jewish Daily Forward
The Sisterhood Blog: Where Jewish Women Converse

June 12, 2012

In a blog post last week Gabrielle Orcha asked, "What about the Jewish father? … Who is he really?" With Father's Day coming up this weekend, we wanted to start a dialogue about the Jewish fathers, or fathers (who may or may not be Jewish) of Jewish daughters. We put out a call for Jewish daughters to tell us about their fathers. We'd also like to thank the folks at Kveller.com, who took up the call and helped collect these stories.

[read more]


Silencing of the Liberal American Jew: We've Allowed Noisy Minorities to Censor Our Voices
By J. J. Goldberg
The Jewish Daily Forward
June 08, 2012

When Miami's Temple Israel canceled a scheduled Memorial Day talk by local Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, following a protest by a wealthy Republican donor, it did more than just insult an elected official. It laid down a significant new marker in the gradual silencing of American Jewry as a moral voice in the broader society.

The silencing has been so gradual, and so thorough, that few even notice it anymore. There was a time - for about a half-century after World War II - when the Jewish community's main representative bodies played a leading role in national struggles for tolerance and equal rights, fighting for Jews and non-Jews alike. Combining organizational savvy, generous donors, a motivated base and the moral authority of history's victims, the community gained a standing and clout beyond its numbers. And the nation was better for it.

[read more]


Jewish Community for Peacemaking & Against Divestment: Calling on Presbyterians to Embrace Peacemaking and Reject Divestment
At the end of June, delegates to the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) will gather in Pittsburgh for their General Assembly. Church leaders will consider a report that calls for divestment from three companies for their sales to Israel. Please join us in calling on Presbyterians to embrace peacemaking and reject divestment.

This letter builds on one signed by 1,300 American Rabbis from all four religious streams and all 50 states sent to church delegates. Join us in urging the PCUSA to take positive steps to provide Palestinians and Israelis peace and security embodied in a two-state solution.

[read more]


PCA Says New DPW Regulations Pose a Threat to the Most Vulnerable
PCA Cares
June 5, 2012

New regulations will go into effect July 1 that officials at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) say will endanger the health, welfare and safety of more than 8,400 frail, homebound senior citizens in Philadelphia - and more than 20,000 seniors across the Commonwealth.

"The safety net that Pennsylvania's most vulnerable seniors need and deserve is being shredded by policy decisions from the Department of Public Welfare which jeopardize our ability to serve them most effectively," said PCA President Rodney D. Williams.

These are seniors who are entitled to nursing home care, paid for by Medicaid. They are all frail and physically disabled; many are also mentally compromised. In a nursing home, they would have nursing care available at all times. They have, instead, opted to remain in their own homes, with the services of the Aging Waiver program.

[read more]


Your Opinion Counts
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JSPAN Officers
Brian Gralnick

Lynn Zeitlin
First Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

Mark Newman
Vice President

Stephen Applebaum

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair

Jeffrey Pasek
Chair of the Board of Directors

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David Boonin
David S. Broida
Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Kenneth Fox
Paula Green
David Gutin
Rabbi Elliot Holin
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
Joanna Klein
Nathan Kleinman
Lazar Kleit
Marlena Kleit
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
Theodore Mann
Jay Meadway
Mark Newman
Maureen Pelta
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Rabbi David Straus
Ilene Wasserman
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Deborah Weinstein
Alex Urevick Ackelsberg
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Mark Newman
Deborah Weinstein

Ira Goldberg


The newsletter contains articles and links to articles that we think will be of interest to JSPAN members. They are included for informational purposes, but unless otherwise stated, they do not necessarily reflect official JSPAN policy.

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