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March 28, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 28, 2014 PAGE 5A VIEWPOINT HERITAGE encourages readers to send in their opinions for the Viewpoint column. They must be signed; how- ever, names will be withheld upon request. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit, if necessary. Opinions printed in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the paper. Local rabbi's perspective of the AIPAC conference Rabbi Rick Sherwin (Rabbi Rick), spiritual leader at Congregation Beth Am in Longwood, had the privi- lege of attending the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 2-4. The largest gathering of America's pro-Israel com- munity, the policy conference highlighted the importance of the partnership between the United States and Israel and showcased the two nations' common interests in mak- ing the world a better place. Through demonstrations of groundbreaking Israeli in- novations, keynote speeches by leaders from both the U.S. and Israel, educational ses- sions and interactive exhibits, Rabbi Rick experienced the full scale of pro-Israel activ- ism. Via email messages ex- cerpted below, Rabbi Rick kept the congregation informed of what he heard and saw during the 3-day conference. Prior to departure: "AIPAC sent a note to all of us who will be in Washington from Sun- day through Tuesday, asking that we give respect to every speaker and government representative, regardless of their political affiliation or liberal-conservative lean- ing. This should be the model for every gathering anywhere the constituency agrees on the long-term goals (such as Israel's security). We have a tendency to dismiss, put down, and ridicule the ideas of those who disagree with us. The fact is that we all share long-terms goals. We just disagree on the details. Jew- ish tradition reminds us that each side of a debate reflects the words of the Living God. The side that wins is the one that listens to the other side, articulates the opposition's point of view, and then pres- ents its own with respect. It is a good model for those who support Israel; it is a healthy model in American govern- ment as well." Day 1: It was with a sense of privilege that I joined 14,000 participants in AIPAC's an- nual policy conference in Washington, D.C. AIPAC is a lobbying group that advo- cates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States. Every speaker was treated with respect and appreciation for her/his efforts to support Israel: leftists and rightists in America and Israel, con- gressional representatives/ senators and members of Israel's Parliament, Jewish activists and Christian sup- porters, Senator John McCain, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Day 2: One major topic of focus was BDS, the move- ment of misguided Ameri- cans to boycott, divest and sanction Israel for supposed oppression of the Palestinian population. No one seems to condemn Syria for dropping barrel bombs on its own people! Thousands in Syria are being starved to death! Turkey continues to occupy Cyprus, and China occupies Tibet. North Korea is accused by the U.N. of performing crimes against humanity on their own people, Iran publicly hangs government protesters from building cranes, and nearly every Arab Islamist state objectifies and subju- gates women. Only Israel is the target of hatred. Recently the American Studies Association came out in favor of boycotting Israel. When asked why, with so many countries, especially in the Arab world, oppressing their own people, the ASA chose just Israel to boycott, the president of ASA replied, "You have to start some- where." What an opprobrious response! Prime Minister Netan- yahu, as well as every speaker agreed: If the only country you want to single out is Israel, that's blatant anti-Semitism, not any different than any other effort to condemn and exterminate Jews throughout history. He explicitly offered the insight that BDS is really just BS! Israel's focus remains to create peace throughout the world based on universal and eternal ideals, whereas many nations focus on everyone else agreeing to be like them. In the Siddur, the word Or "light" refers to optimism and the light of the future. The biblical prophet Second Isaiah teaches that Israel shall become l'or "goyim" as a source of light for the nations of the earth. His prayer--and our prayer--is that the world will come to see the brightness of future through peace with, in, and for Israel. Day 3: While the news and network servers focus on Iran, the Palestinians and anti- Semites (often in a favorable light), much of the world pays attention to what Israel offers the world: Better ways to feed the world, to improve health, to rescue lives in military and emergency situations, and to enable people to follow a "normal" daily routine. AIPAC presented four tech- nological advances from Israel that benefit humanity: TaKaDu developed software to detect water leaks anywhere in the world, thereby saving millions of wasted gallons of precious water. Yael Hanein Laboratory's research that led to mapping the "software" of the brain (as opposed to an MRI--also created in Israel--that views the hardware), the neural network, so as to track men- tal anomalies and processes, including recovery from concussions. Camero's device to see throughwalls, detectingwhat is on the other side, which enables military forces to identify terrorists and hos- tages. Imagine what it could mean to firefighters looking to see if people are trapped in closed rooms. OrCam's augmented reality glasses that help the severely Sherwin on page 15A PointCounter PointEPro If not insured now, then when? By Rabbi Lori Koffman What would you do if you saw someone drowning in a river? Or witnessed someone being torn limb from limb by wild beasts? Or if you stumbled upon someone who was under attack by armed robbers? Judaism is clear in its answer; you intervene to save them. The Jewish sages use these cases as the springboard to teach that we always have an obligation to save a life. Health insurance saves lives. That is why we have an obligation to try to reach every American who needs access to quality, affordable insur- ance, and to help each sign up through the new insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. Each and every one of us is fashioned in the image of God, and therefore every single life is infinitely valuable. And yet, as we all know, life--and dis- ease--is unpredictable. The more than four million people who have bought private plans through the marketplaces so far understand this need for protection. They now have the life-saving benefits of in- surance coverage. Moreover, they have the peace of mind knowing they will be able to access the care they need, when they need it. They can't be denied coverage, and it can't be taken away. Up to 129 million Ameri- cans with pre-existing condi- tions-including 17 million children--no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage or charged higher premiums because of their health status. People don't have to fear that their health insurance will be cut off once they reach an annual or lifetime limit on benefits. Preventive health care servic- es-such as mammograms, birth control and immuniza- tion-are covered without added cost to the consumer; women are not charged higher premiums because of their gender; and approximately 60 million Americans now have, or will gain, expanded mental health and substance use benefits. There's a problem, though: While enrollment continues to grow, many people still don't know how, why or by when to get covered in the marketplace. That's where we come in. We can help by encouraging people to explore their coverage options and choose a health plan that best fits their needs or refer them to someone who can walk them through the process. Health care professionals, financial advisers, and accountants can be especially helpful in telling others about open enrollment. No matter what you might have heard when the program first rolled out, the market- places are working well and individuals can find out ev- erything they need to know by going to or by phoning 1-800-318-2596. Through these resources, they can also learn if they qualify for federal financial assistance to help them afford private insurance, or if they are eligible to enroll in the Medicaid program. And while youth enrollment is outpac- ing all other age groups, it is especially important that we reach out to encourage more young people (ages 18-34) to enroll, not only because they help the economics of the insured pools, but more importantly because while youths often feel invincible, sadly we know that disease is age agnostic. Accessible, affordable health Coverage isn,t just about health; it's also about economic security. Each of us is equally deserving of access to health care--wherever and whenever we may need it-- without risking our financial future or other basic needs. That's where the "affordable" comes in. The majority of people without insurance today will be able to find a plan for $100 a month or less, although the marketplaces offer a variety of plans with different benefit levels with varying costs. The benefits of health cov- erage last a lifetime, but the window for signing up is clos- ing. The enrollment period for this year ends on March 31. Save a life; spread the word. As Hillel, one of the greatest Jewish sages of all time, so aptly urged: "If not now, when?" Rabbi Lori Koffman is the founder and director of Mamash (http://mamash. org) and a member of the Na- tional Board of the National Council ofJewish Women. In addition to a rabbinic degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary, she holds an MA in political science from the University California at Berkeley and an MBA from the Wharton School of Busi- ness. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. PointCounter PointECon Obamacare offers health insurance, not health care By Matthew Brooks In March, the Obama ad- ministration reported on Obamacare's enrollment numbers. Fewer people have signed up than the adminis- tration had hoped, especially among the young and healthy. For many people, even the previously uninsured, the choices in the Obamacare market are simply not what they're looking for in a health insurance plan. It's easy to understand why. Obamacare replaces a wide variety of market-determined plans with a limited number of plans containing narrow networks of doctors and hos- pitals and a required set of items covered. No more cheap catastrophic care plan for the young man in his first job. Families and businesses can't choose an insurance plan that meets their circumstances and needs. Now the govern- ment sets the plans and the networks. The result is that cancer patients are losing access to the doctors and hospitals they rely on. Parents are losing their trusted pediatricians. And families may not have access to the hospital nearest to their homes. Consider this: In Georgia, one of the five insurers offer- ing plans on the Obamacare exchanges has just one hos- pital in the entire state in its network. In California and New York, major plans exclude the world-class Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and New York City's Memorial Sloan-Kettering. For those with serious and chronic illnesses, there is more terrible news. Many people are finding that their expensive, life-saving medica- tions are not covered under their new Obamacare plans. These narrow plans with narrow networks mean fewer choices, higher costs, and dif- ficult decisions for millions of Americans. Some families do pay less for their monthly premiums for Obamacare-subsidized plans. Many more working families, who earn too much to qualify for subsidized plans, are paying considerably more each month for their health insurance. But the monthly premium is not the only cost in a health insurance plan. Families are finding that their insurance won't begin paying for care until they've spent $5,000, $10,000, or more" of their own money toward the deductible first. And once the deductible is met, the co- insurance (the amount the plan pays) may be as low as 60 percent, leaving individuals to pay the rest of the bill for their care by themselves. Most plans in the previous insurance market had an "out-of-pocket" cap to prevent people from losing everything in the event of a serious health problem. But in the Obam- acare exchanges, some plans are offered with out-of-pocket protection only for care pro- vided in-network. If you go to a doctor or hospital outside of your network, your insurance plan may pay nothing. People who rely on an expensive medication--for multiple sclerosis, severe rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV for example--are seeing their medication costs skyrocket. If the medication is covered by their insurance plan, they may still have to pay 40 percent of the cost, or thousands of dollars a year, up to the out-of- pocket limit. If the medication is not covered, they must pay the full price and the cost does not count toward the deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. Their expenses then are literally limitless. One of the most serious problems with Obamacare is that it mistakes health insur- ance for health care. Obam- acare supporters pretend that if every person has a health insurance plan, then they are getting the health care they need. That is simply not true. As we have seen, a plan that doesn't include your doctor or your medication doesn't provide the care you need. But there is another serious prob- lem quickly coming into view. For decades, poor people in this country have been eligible for Medicaid. The amount the government pays doctors to see Medicaid patients, how- ever, is very low. At some point, when a doctor is not getting paid enough to cover the basic expenses of providing care, he or she will stop accepting Medicaid patients, or get out of medicine altogether. That is why today Medicaid patients can wait months for care. if they can find a doctor who will see them at all. Obamacare specifically expands Medicaid to a wider segment of the population. Young adults with low in- comes and the children of low-income families may have Medicaid as their only choice in the Obamacare exchanges, based on family income. So far, enrollment in Medicaid has been more than half of the signups made under the new Obamacare rules. Who will provide care to those people? How long will they have to wait to see a doctor? In 2008, about 15 percent of Americanswere uninsured. The Congressional Budget office projects that under Obamacare, in the years 2013-2023, the percentage of uninsuredwill never fall below 11 percent of the population. That's not much of a change in health insurance rates, at the expense of more expensive, lessaccessible health care for millions more Americans. Matthew Brooks is the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.