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Resolution on Task Force Concerns: Medicaid; Confronting Poverty By Funding Anti-Poverty Programs; Reproductive Choice

Posted by JCPA  

01:35 PM Feb 28, 2005

Adopted by the 2005 JCPA Plenum


Since biblical times, Jewish tradition finds a profound value in the preservation of health and life of all individuals. We recognize that to save a life is as if to save an entire world.  For decades, the JCPA has been dedicated to improving the American healthcare system and Medicaid in particular.  Medicaid is our nation’s health care safety net, the only source of health care coverage for 47 million Americans, including working families, low-income children, seniors, pregnant women and people with disabilities.  Of critical importance to the Jewish community is the extensive funding that Medicaid provides for low-income seniors, especially for nursing home care.  Because Medicaid is funded jointly by states and the federal government and represents a significant part of each state’s budget, recent state fiscal crises have added to problems with financing the Medicaid program. 

In the 109th Congress we anticipate that there will once again be efforts to restructure and reduce funding in the Medicaid program.  The JCPA takes this opportunity to reaffirm our historic commitment to the appropriate funding of Medicaid as an entitlement program and our opposition to funding Medicaid through block grants to the states.

Commensurate with JCPA’s Confronting Poverty initiative, the community relations field should:
•    Join other advocates in opposing devolving Medicaid to the states;
•    Support the federal and state governments’ obligation to assure adequate and affordable health care coverage, including prescription drug benefits, for all individuals and families, in need;
•    Opposes efforts to cut, cap and block grant Medicaid;
•    Oppose legislative efforts that might end the Medicaid entitlement;
•    Encourage agencies and governmental departments to explore alternatives, which will provide needed Medicaid services more effectively.

Confronting Poverty By Funding Anti-Poverty Programs
The JCPA supports policies and programs that help move individuals and families out of poverty; that provide work opportunities at wages that allow for self-sufficiency; that provide adequate financial and social service supports; and that attack problems of inadequate education, housing, healthcare, and persistent, fundamental illiteracy.  In light of continued federal and state budget deficits we anticipate continued efforts to reduce funding for critical programs.  The JCPA reaffirms its commitment to fully funding social programs that are part of an overall commitment and strategy to confront poverty. 

The JCPA believes that:
•    The federal and state governments have a primary responsibility for alleviating poverty and for ensuring a basic minimally adequate level of support to provide a decent living standard for the poor; 
•    Attempts to shift responsibility for social service funding either to the private sector or to the states through block grants and funding cuts place an unacceptable burden on many states already facing fiscal crisis;
•    Poverty reduction, not just caseload reduction, should be a primary goal of welfare reform, with incentives to states to implement policies that reduce child and adult poverty rates;
•    Supporting, strengthening and sustaining public schools is crucial for advancing the primary route for most children into full participation in the nation’s economic, political and social life. 

The community relations field should:
•    Urge adequate federal and state funding for programs that promote self-sufficiency and reduce poverty;
•    Call for improved access and funding for key federal non-TANF programs serving low-income families, including the Food Stamp Program, childcare subsidies through the Child Care Development Block Grant, LIHEAP, Sections 8 and 202 housing, as well as such programs as Head Start, WIC, Welfare and the Social Services Block Grant;
•    Work to make sure that the institution of public education is fully funded.
Reproductive Choice
Assaults on reproductive health services continue to grow on a local, state and federal level.  Moreover, access to abortion and affordable family planning has been severely restricted.  There is also a growing movement to bestow the rights of full personhood on the fetus.  In light of the debate within American society regarding a woman’s right to choose, the JCPA reaffirms its support for a woman’s legal right to reproductive choice and for adequately funded family planning programs in the United States and abroad, in accordance with our 1999 resolution on reproductive health.

The JCPA believes that:
•    Reproductive health decisions are best made by individuals in consultation with their families and health care professionals based on personal religious beliefs;
•    Restrictions on the right to choose and lack of access to services threaten this constitutionally-protected individual right. 

The community relations field should:
•    Oppose any efforts to deny a woman’s right to reproductive choice, including any efforts to deny access to birth control;
•    Oppose efforts to restrict a woman’s ability to access reproductive health services;
•    Support efforts to safeguard Roe v. Wade.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA) does not as a matter of long¬standing policy, join with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in resolutions concerning “reproductive choice. " We cannot endorse a public policy that does not reflect the complex response of halacha (Jewish Law) to the abortion issue. In most circumstances the halacha proscribes abortion but there are cases in which halacha permits and indeed mandates abortion. The question is a sensitive one and personal decisions in this area should be made in consultation with recognized halachic authorities.

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