December 2008

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News and Opinion

Letters to the Editor

Affordable, quality health care - top priority

Pennsylvania has the unfortunate distinction of leading the seven-year downward trend of declining employment-based insurance in the U.S., according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. Among the key findings was that nearly 561,000 non-elderly Pennsylvanians and 200,000 children lost coverage through an employer.

Although health care legislation that would have addressed the plight of the uninsured went down in the Pennsylvania Senate, health care continues to be on the public's list of top economic concerns. Even the financial meltdown was unable to displace health care as a top economic issue, indicated by the Kaiser Family Foundation 2008 tracking poll. Paying for health care ranked fourth among economic problems, “health care is now every bit as much an economic issue for the American people as job insecurity, mortgage payments and credit card debt,” stated Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.

At least I have my health is becoming less of a statement and more of a hope as growing numbers of us skip medical care and have problems paying the medical bills.

The news from the Pennsylvania Senate isn't all bad. The workplace smoking ban has been enacted as well as expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and midwives, establishing protocols for insurance companies to pay for preventative services for diseases such as diabetes, and requiring hospitals to monitor and report on the number of hospital acquired infections resulting in a decline of those occurrences.

Still, as we head into the last days of the presidential campaign, all our candidates need to hear from us that access to affordable, quality health care is top on our list of pressing concerns.

-- Rabbi Meryl M. Crean; Rabbi Linda Holtzman; Jeff Hornstein, PJLC Chairman; Rosalind Spigel, PJLC Director
Jewish Labor Committee
Philadelphia, PA

The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania - protecting the realms of religion and politics from being used to manipulate each other

I read with interest your interview with Rabbi Jack Moline, Chairman of the Board of the Interfaith Alliance. As he noted, the Interfaith Alliance "addresses the relationship between religious faith, government and politics," and is dedicated to keeping the realms of religion and politics healthy and separate from each other. In the case of The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania, the statewide Pennsylvania affiliate, we are particularly interested in networking people throughout the state to protect the realms of religion and politics from being used to manipulate each other. Our specific focus is on localized or statewide issues in Pennsylvania, or on national issues where Pennsylvania may make a difference.

It must say something about the sensitivity of our Jewish community to these issues that the board of The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania is also chaired by a rabbi. I am a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside of Philadelphia. After several years of being a rabbi in the Harrisburg area I helped to establish a statewide affiliate of the national movement.

As your interview brought forth, we are centered in Harrisburg where so much in the world of Pennsylvania politics is centered. We have a growing network of members across the state, from Pittsburgh to the Poconos and from Erie to Philadelphia. The question was asked but not answered as to how people in the Philadelphia area could become more involved. We are now beginning to identify geographic clusters of members that we can connect with each other so they can get to know each other and speak out when needed. Local membership clusters could coordinate with us in Harrisburg and others across the state, but would not have to create or sustain a separate organization. Any of your readers interested in connecting with us could contact me at interfaithalliance@pa.net>.

-- Rabbi Carl Choper,President, The Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice welcomes the submission of articles and letters to the editor letters @ pjvoice.com. Please include name, address and phone number for identification purposes. We cannot publish every submission we receive. We also reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, grammar, accuracy, and style, though we will never intentionally distort the author's intent.

Editor-in-chief Adena Potok editor @ pjvoice.com.

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