A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
Religous Action Center of Reform Judaism Supports Native American Health CareFrom the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's website.
The Indian Health Care Improvement Act (H.R. 1328), which provides the authority for the federal government to deliver health services to Native Americans, was last reauthorized in 1992. Since then, the American health care system has evolved considerably but American Indians and Native Alaskans-who often reside in the most isolated and poorest areas of the country-have not seen the same medical advances as the rest of the U.S. population. The health disparities are staggering: The infant mortality rate is 150 percent greater for Indians than for Caucasians. Indians are 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Suicide for Indians is 2½ times higher than the national average and Indians have fewer mental health professionals available to treat them than does the rest of the U.S. population. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which passed the Senate 83-10, would modernize medical care and reorganize the delivery of health services to Indian communities in ways that would substantially improve their well-being.
Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of the community providing health care for its vulnerable members. Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar and physician, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city must offer its residents. Nearly every self-governing Jewish community throughout history set up systems to ensure that all their citizens had access to health care. Furthermore, the Talmud teaches, "Whoever is in pain, lead him to the physician" (Baba Kamma 46B) and the Torah commands, "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16).