Philadelphia Pizzeria Owner Takes Papa John to Task on ObamaCare

— by Jamie Mondics

Curator of the Nation’s Only Pizza Museum Tells Papa John’s Owner He’d Gladly Pay 20 Cents More Per Pie if it Meant Affordable Health Care for Americans

Philadelphia pizzeria owner takes Papa John’s owner to task on the business of pizza and Obamacare

Last week, John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza – a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser – announced that the Affordable Care Act will raise the cost of his pizza 11 to 14 cents each, or 15 to 20 cents per order.

But local pizza historian Brian Dwyer, creator and spokesperson for Pizza Brain, says “As a pizza consumer, I will gladly pay 20 cents more per pie if that meant that people and their families got health insurance.”

“The whole idea of a pizza shop is that it is a community hub, where strangers can meet each other and share a slice of pizza. Pizza is so inherently communal that to complain about 11 cents a slice is a good indicator that the owner of Papa Johns has lost touch with the heart of what pizza is really about; community.”

When Pizza Brain opens in September 2012, it will display Brian Dwyer’s collection of pizza memorabilia, the Guinness record holder for the biggest such collection in the world. It will also serve pizza.

Brian, a small business owner says he is excited about the prospect of providing his employees health insurance. “We want to provide health insurance for our employees. As small business owners we want to provide our employees with the best possible options. To be able to give back to the people that work for and with us is what Pizza Brain is all about.”

Luckily for Brian and the other owners of Pizza Brain, under the Affordable Care Act small businesses who provide health insurance to their employees qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35% to offset the cost of insurance.

And beginning in 2014, small businesses with generally fewer than 100 employees can shop in an Affordable Insurance Exchange, which gives them the leveraging power similar to what a large business enjoys when purchasing health insurance.  

Affordable Care Act Helps 47 Million Women, Starting August 1

Emanuel: ACA Consistent with Jewish Values

— by Max Samis

In an op-ed published by JTA, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — is in lockstep with Jewish values and traditions. Emanuel wrote:

The duty to heal the sick and provide for the poor are deep moral imperatives in the Jewish tradition. Combined with the biblical command to treat the stranger as yourself because you were once a stranger in a strange land, this duty transforms our obligations beyond the worthy interest in promoting the health and well-being of our own community. Our mothers can’t just want their children to be doctors to Jewish people, they must heal whomever is sick-Jew and non-Jew.

This element of Jewish philosophy makes the Jews’ stake in health care reform enormous. It is not just about providing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans-caring for children who might not get the vaccinations or the checkups they need, or diagnosing cancer or other diseases early, or making sure people don’t have to choose between bankruptcy and having a needed surgical procedure. For Jews it is about more; it is about holding true to our tradition.

After 100 years of trying to achieve comprehensive health care reform-an effort that started with Teddy Roosevelt and continued with FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton-Congress finally passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010. Once and for all, the Supreme Court affirmed that the law, particularly the individual mandate, is constitutional…

Because of this health care reform, children can no longer be denied care due to pre-existing conditions. Patients can’t lose coverage when they get sick. Insurance companies can’t impose lifetime caps on care or raise premiums without reason. Medical research will proceed faster, as insurers must cover the cost of participation on clinical trials. And all of this reform comes while still allowing preserving the traditional physician-patient relationship…

These changes will save lives. They will perfect our union and help repair our world. Yet Republican leaders want to reverse course…

More after the jump.

Republicans claim they want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The fact is they have never once offered a coherent ‘replacement’ alternative plan to the ACA that controls costs, provides care to the uninsured and incentivizes better quality care. ‘Repeal and replace’ may be good rhetoric, but unfortunately it is not backed up by any real substance.  As Jews, can we really accept living in a country that denies tens of millions of our citizens access to health care insurance? Can we in good conscience let our children-and our neighbors’ children-go without vaccinations, checkups and care for the simplest of ailments?

President Obama courageously championed health care reform. He understood the moral imperative.

Because he led, millions of families will now be part of the health care system and Jewish doctors will better be able to fulfill their obligations to help save the world. And Jewish mothers can be prouder still that their sons-and daughters-can care for all Americans.

GOP’s 31st Quixotic Attempt To Repeal Obamacare

— by David Streeter

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today slammed the House Republican Caucus for continuing their quixotic campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act — the same bill supported by the vast majority of American Jews and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

This effort — the 31st such vote by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — proves once again that Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) care significantly more about politics than policy, as this effort will simply not succeed. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been found constitutional by the Supreme Court and will provide life-saving health insurance to millions of Americans. Sadly, House Republicans would rather waste time with one more unnecessary vote than focus on working to further improve on health care reform or focusing on job creation. Most Jewish Americans — along with countless others — supported Obamacare and millions of Americans will benefit from the legislation as it is implemented. It is way past time for Republicans to cease tilting at windmills and quit playing politics with Americans’ health insurance.

Bend the Arc: Health Care Decision Reflects Jewish Values

— by Daniele Lehrer

Bend the Arc’s Alan van Capelle explained in JTA that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act reflects the Jewish values that inspired so many people in our community to support the bill.

Van Capelle wrote:

Jewish law and tradition have much to say about taking an active role in guarding one’s health-and the health of our fellow man. Health and life are bedrock Jewish values, to the extent that saving someone (pikuach nefesh) supersedes even the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) notes, ‘If one has medicine that a sick person needs, it is forbidden to charge more than the appropriate price.’ This statement of Jewish law now becomes the spirit of America’s national health policy, and I could not be more proud.

The Jewish community has long supported a national health-care policy that includes everyone, and traditionally has viewed health care as a communal responsibility. This central Jewish tenet is consistent with a society’s prioritizing of health and safety of everyone in its midst and is demonstrated by the commitment that American Jews have made to supporting hospitals and health services through our communal institutions.

Jewish Renewal Rabbis, Cantors Support Supreme Court ACA Decision

— by Rabbi Edi Stafman and Rabbi Pam Frydman

In response to the Supreme Court Decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Board of Directors of OHALAH, the trans-denomination Jewish Renewal association that includes over 180 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Jewish life, released the following statement:

The historic ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(ACA) is a victory for those who believe, as we do, that health care is a fundamental human right. The ACA has the chance to help the nearly forty million currently uninsured Americans receive coverage and the millions of underinsured who will see their situation improved. It is our hope that this decision will help remedy and heal the injustices and inefficiencies in the United States health care system, by guaranteeing preventative and emergency care, affordable prescription drugs, and insurance despite pre-existing conditions, among other benefits. We are also pleased that the Medicaid expansion stands, helping lower-income individuals get the health care they deserve. The ACA can now bring the health insurance system closer to reflecting our highest spiritual aspirations.

It is also our hope and prayer that this decision, although decided by a divided court, will begin to allow for healing of the deep divisions in the United States that this issue has caused, and allow us as a nation to work together towards our common goals and solving our common challenges.

Andy Griffith, 1926-2012

The entertainer Andy Griffith died today at the age of 86. His career included many roles in television, cinema and theater. He was an accomplished actor, director, producer, singer and writer, but he is perhaps best known for his role in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) where he played the Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.

In the clip shown to the right, we see how standards have changed over the years.

“Whether a man is guilty or innocent, we have to find that out by due process of the law.”

Surely, Sheriff Andy Taylor would not have approved of the Patriot Act.

Andy Griffith on Obamacare after the jump.

Reaction to Supreme Court Decision Upholding Obamacare

Several organizations issued statements following today’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

As we study today’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, we are struck by the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the Court’s process and deliberations. The rule of law is central to the American legal system, the protection of civil and human rights, and the viability of democracy.  The ACA is the law of the land and universal, affordable, and accessible healthcare coverage for all Americans remains a compelling policy goal and moral imperative.  Over the next few months, as the Court’s decision is parsed and the ACA is implemented, we will work with Congress and the Administration continually to improve our healthcare system and governance. We are particularly focused on the implications for Medicaid, a vital program that ensures healthcare for the most vulnerable among us.  Today, we are reminded of the genius of American system of laws and government.

Repubican Jewish Coalition

The Supreme Court has rendered judgement on the constitutionality of Obamacare. It remains up to Congress and the American people to judge whether it is good policy. The serious negative effects this law will have on the economy, on jobs, on medical research and development, and on the quality of health care in America, are very troubling. The American people will have the opportunity to express their opinion on the wisdom of Obamacare in this election year.

National Jewish Democratic Council

The National Jewish Democratic Council — indeed so much of the American Jewish community — is deeply gratified by today’s ruling. We are thankful that the Court affirmed the core constitutionality of this landmark legislation that will bring health care to tens of millions more Americans. The Court confirmed today what liberal and conservative legal scholars have said all along — that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is constitutional and well within Congress’ jurisdiction to regulate. Now is the time for conservative critics of the President — especially the godfather of core components of the bill, Mitt Romney — to accept Obamacare and its provisions as the constitutional law of the land. We look forward to the continuing implementation of Obamacare in the months and years to come.

President’s remarks follow the jump.
Remarks by President Barack Obama on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

Good afternoon.  Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.  But that discussion completely misses the point.  Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support.  And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.  

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too.  And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.  They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.  In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive.  I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared.  And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics.  I did it because I believed it was good for the country.  I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now.  It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield.  For years and years, Natoma did everything right.  She bought health insurance.  She paid her premiums on time.  But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year.  And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.  It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today.  And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.  These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken.  We will continue to implement this law.  And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.  But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.  And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time:  putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.

 

Ezekiel Emanuel Optimistic on US 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.

More after the jump.
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.

 

Join JSPAN For An Inside Look At Healthcare Reform

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear a White House insider’s view of the future of American healthcare.  A top healthcare insider is coming to The Pyramid Club on June 6 to address JSPAN and you can be there.

Who: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, ex-White House advisor on healthcare (also brother of the Mayor of Chicago), will speak on the future of healthcare reform and American medicine.

Emanuel, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, is well known on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times and in the media.  He headed healthcare at the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2009-10, during the design and Congressional passage of the Affordable Care Act.    

When: The event is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday June 6.  

Where: The Pyramid Club, 1735 Market Street, Philadelphia.  With a great dessert buffet, the cost is $10 (free to JSPAN  members with 2012 dues paid). Discount parking is available.

RSVP Required: [email protected] or phone 215-635-2554.