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September 11, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 11, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 PAGE 5A By Edmon J. Rodman LOS ANGELES (JTA)--Is your idea of the perfect Yore Kippur sermon short, really short, like a Twitter max of 140 characters short? OK, here goes: Yom Kippur is about R+P+TZ. To decode, have a listen: On Yom Kippur, as you settle back into your pew or seat, the rabbi walks up to the reader's table. The couple in front of you is chatting, some- one's cell phone r!ngs. Yes, it's that time of year again--time for the sermon. For many, this is our one pilgrimage to the sy~aagogue and our rabbi knows it. Dif- ficult as it may seem, in the 30 or so minutes he or she speaks, it will be the one shot at reaching you. All pass before the rabbi's voice today, one by one, like a flock of sheep But most of us don't see ourselves as a flockofanything and could do without the sheep reference, thank you. When we go to the game, before the first pitch we pre- pare, perusing the scorecard. Yet for Yore Kippur services there is no preparation; we go in cold. The rabbi winds up--and we aren't ready for the first pitch. Listening is a skill, and some of us clearly are out of practice. Others are overtaken by.worldly events, and. still others are newbies to the whole experience. So how do we turn, make teshuvah, toward becoming a goodaudience, good listeners, fully present partakers of rab- binic thought? Can we look to our "we have paid, so we shall listen" relationship at the concert or lecture hall as a model? Or does being a good listener in the synagogue call for a longer, more complex take on our souls and attention spans? The Shema begins "Hear O' Israel"--so what about it? That man or woman up there looking out over their largest congregation of the year is simply asking us before the last shofar blast "to hear." How do the rabbis ask? Some do itby teaching, others by coaxing. Some take off the gloves and start punching. All are trying to take us to another level of understanding Some sermons are easy lis- tening, anecdotal, drawing on personal experience to draw you in. Others are in your face. A rabbi friend of mine once gave a sermon telling his congregants they should turn off the TV--for good. For many listeners, the Listening on page 23A Hey, it's Yom Kippur. Edrnon Rodman Try disconnecting this Yom Kippur: A battery-free day will help you to recharge. By Rachel Goldberg WASHINGTON (JTA)-- There's a lot of noise about health care--wildly false claims, meetings being dis- rupted, shrill voices shouting down legislators. Amid the din, real ideas and concerns are getting lost. It's easy and lazy to criticize something. What's difficult and bold is to recognize that a critically important part of our country's infrastructure is severely broken and come up with a plan to fix it. The premise of many health reform naysayers is that the system isn't bad now, but' it will be if we "reform" it. The next part of that theory is that what Canada and England have creates problems that do not exist in the health care utopia we currently oc- cupy. (Incidentally, none of the congressional proposals would adopt their systems.) Even assuming the initial premise is true--and it's not unless you are wealthy and lucky--we still know the next parts are demonstrably untrue. If we do nothing, employer- based coverage will continue to erode, even as our unstable job market means more people are losing access to employer plans. And when people lose or switch jobs, often they are unable to acquire coverage in the private market. That can mean long periods without coverage, or with costly catastrophic cover- age, and dangerous Catch-22 provisions down the line: You can't get coverage if you didn't have coverage in the past--that pesky pre-existing condition exclusion. Particularly offensive are attempts by opponents to convince older people that reform proposals would steal their benefits or destroy Medi- care. Many of the Medicare "cuts" are delivery system reforms that aging advocates have been urging, We actually could see improvements to the Medicare program if reform occurs--changes that won't happen otherwise. Seniors are an important constituency because they know the importance of health care and care about their children and grand- children. Using fear to turn them against reform is rep- rehensible. Also outrageous: Rais- ing the specter of Nazis to promote the absurdist scare tactics about fictional death panels, too. The U.S. health care system is broken. In the richest na- tion in the world, about 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Millions of Americans are underingured, unable to afford co-pays or prescriptions, or even are forced into bankruptcy by uncovered expenses (medical costs are the biggest single cause of bankruptcy in the United States). The numbers of people who don't visit doctors or fill prescriptions because they are underinsured is rising. Meanwhile, the trav- eling clinics dreated to serve disease-ravaged parts of the developing world now also visit underserved communi- ties in poor and rural parts of:the United States. People travel many miles and wait countless hours for those services. In the face of this crisis, some have chosen venom, demagogtiery and misinfor- mation over real dialogue-- jeopardizing the chance to make life better for millions. A better health care system, we should not forget, would provide real security for ev- eryone-even those who like whatever arrangement they have now. As a human rights or- ganization, B'nai B'rith is dedicated to health care for all. We have not yet endorsed any piece of legislation--we see problems, as well as real promise, in each of them. Legislators are working hard to do more than stake out ideological and political ter- ritory. At the most basic level, health care coverage needs to be comprehensive, affordable and secure. It must ensure that people can keep the coverage they like and acquire coverage they can afford. Real- istic health care reform must address long-term services and be both politically feasible and financially fair. A reform plan should in- clude provisions for the high costs of prescription drugs and long-term care issues. Our population is aging and the latter's costs have the potential to further erode our current system. Americans, regardless of 'their opinion or knowledge base, obviously are pas- sionate about health care: Just watch any town hall meeting with members of Congress or listento callers on talk radio. Health issues can serve as the great lev- eler of our society. Everyone gets sick and needs medical attention. I. s time for a better system. There are real proposals on the table that could expand coverage. Will everyone like every element of the propos- als? Of course not. But if we can quiet the shouting and stay in touch with the reality that demands we do some- thing, we have an opportunity to work together to reach an effective compromise. That compromise could im- prove, and even save, millions of lives and deliver the human right of health security to a country in desperate need. Rachel Goldberg is the di- rector of aging policy for B 'nai B'rith International. care LOS ANGELES (JTA)-- Government insurance for health care--the public op- tion-is an inappropriate cure that the American body politic is rejecting. Canadians spend 10 percent of annual GDP on health care, while Americans spend 16 percent. However, Canadians experience long waiting lists for diagnosis and treatment, rationed care, and limited access to doctors and new medical devices. You can get private medical care in Canada--if you are a pet and your doctor is a vet. Otherwise, tens of thousands of Canadians flock to the United States each year for private care to reduce pain or to save their lives. Famously., Liberal MP Belinda Stronach advocated for government health care but then traveled to Californiaherself for private breast cancer surgery. Even Canada's top court struck down a Quebec ban on private health care as violat- ing a patient's right to life, liberty and security of person. Nationalized health care systems abroad depend upon cost and medical effective- ness panels that frequently deny drugs and surgeries to the elderly. That is not the American way. Neither is socialized medicine's obvious disincen- tive to scientists and entrepre- neurs to research and develop innovative biologics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Americans, by contrast, pro- duce and consume the best health care in the world and export life-saving drugs across the planet. Americans are overwhelm- ingly impressedwith the high- quality health-care testing, technology and treatment they receive. Note that there are 12 patients in Europe for every nurse, compared to just six in the United States. Approximately 260 million Americans have private health insurance. The 40 million people who do not include many young and healthy who choose to become insured when they grow older and build families. It also includes 10-15 million illegal immi- grants, a number that would rise with single-payer health care. It further includes the successful who choose not to purchase insurance and the poor who choose not to enroll in already existing public plans. There are actually only about 8 million chronically ill patients who require insur- ance and do not have it. We can and should cover them with vouchers, tax credits, and savings from the waste, fraud and abuse in the system. How to reduce costs for all Americans? Howaboutmedical liability reform, to reduce defensive medicine (unnecessary, ex- pensive tests) and defensive documentation(hours a day on paperwork) and the .$200+ billion a year in. trial court judgments? As they say, ask your doctor. Health insurance coverage for most people can be for catastrophic, not comprehen- sive, care." One size fits all is bad health care policy. Government. mandates and rules prevent interstate competition among the 1,300 private insurance companies, keeping Americans from choosing good plans, thereby driving down costs and in- creasing health care accessi- bility, affordability, portability and price transparency. There are many sincere reforms (such as allowing well-qualified nurse practi- tioners to care for your cold at the local store) to increase consumer choice and health care supply, promote healthy living and keep medical professionals from leaving the field. Big government is clearly not the answer. The free market is already being crowded out in the United States. Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP account for 47 percent ol~health care costs. But they are going broke, as they cost billions more per year than promised when these programs were created. In 1965, Medicare began with predictions that it would cost taxpayers $12 billion by 1990. The bill came in 10 times higher. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now predicts new, massive ex- penditures as utilization rates would soar undergovernment health care. Obama's senior economic officials have tele- graphed the possibility of huge tax increases to come. We hear the common refrain: If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free. Americans have become deeply concerned about the rapidly growing government role in our economy (nation- alization of banks, insurance companies and the atito in- dustry), bizarre centralized economic planning schemes (directives not to hold .gov- ernment conferences in the convention destinations of Orlando or Las Vegas), and the Democratic Congress' record- setting deficit spending. Pll numbers have shifted dra- matically against the extremely liberal president and Congress because their fearmongering about a looming Depression produced rushed, unread and ineffective stimulus legislation. The president again has overreached, cynically trying hard to pass Obamacare prior to wide public discussion. In the light of hot summer de- bate, even Obama now reveals ambiguity as he touts Fed Ex and UPS compared to the U.S. Post Office. Exactly. The left's repeated prescriptions for big- ger goverriment are not what citizens desire or deserve. Larry Greenfield is a fellow in American studies at the The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy. The statistics in this article come from the Pacific Research In- stitue, which opposes univer- sal health care and works to advance "free-market policy solutions." 1]lrllll lllg ll [!][ll!IllI, lml T I[11t111| I :,f