Thousands of people are converging on the LA Forum for free medical care - if you know a doc or dentist in LA - send them here.

Thousands of people are converging on the LA Forum for free medical care - if you know a doc or dentist in LA - send them here.

In the intense and heated debate over health care I found this story compelling and instructive. A group that provides health care for rural, impoverished parts of the world, has come to LA and is overwhelmed. The LA Times reports:

A homeless man spent the night camped outside the Forum, hoping to finally get glasses to help him see better. An unemployed grocery clerk waited in desperate need of root canal surgery. A former auto mechanic came with an aching back.

One by one, about 1,500 people made their way through the Inglewood sports arena, where dozens of volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and other healthcare professionals are providing free medical services this week.

Remote Area Medical Foundation is a trailer-equipped service that has staged health clinics in rural parts of the United States, Mexico and South America. It brought its health camp to urban Los Angeles County on Tuesday to begin an eight-day stint that the group’s officials described as its first foray into a major urban setting.

Today the scene has repeated itself and they have put out a call for many doctors and dentists, because the organizers don’t have enough docs on hand to treat all the people that need help.

Preserving life a Jewish value, a mitzvah of the highest order that over-rides all other laws of the Torah. Healing the sick is also a mitzvah, and we live in a society that is full of sick people that cannot afford treatment. There are many who might say, “they have brought these troubles on themselves through poor health care and lifestyle,” and in many cases this may be true. Does that mean that we let them sit and rot on the sidewalk?

The true measure of our society in Jewish terms is how we deal with those that are less fortunate, those on hard times, those that need a hand, those that cannot fend for themselves. Millions of people in this country lack adequate medical care and preserving the status quo is not an option.

Is what is passing through the halls of Congress the answer? I don’t know. Is this a major Jewish problem? Yes. And we need to fix it right now.

If you know any Jewish doctors in the LA area – tell them to head on over to the Forum and participate in the largest free medical clinic in LA history. It’s a mitzvah. Or, if you wish, Guide To Healthcare Schools can help you find classes to get health education and be part of the solution!

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

9 Comments

  • … and Socialism is a Jewish disease.

    But seriously, I applaud these volunteers (aka non-government workers) who under their own free will are willing to give away free services. And that’s the way it ought to stay and has always worked within Capitalist systems, systems which do more good for the world over than any crappy nanny state does for its own people. Charity, greed, and altruism can not, nor should not, be legislated.

    In addition, if we as Jews are concerned with preserving life, then we should all be deathly afraid and against this monstrosity of a bill that would nationalize health care for the following two reasons, if not for the fact that it will cost a shitload, will not work, will leave us worse off than before, and fracture the country’s people:

    1. A government plan will provide government funds for abortions. I personally don’t care if people get abortions, but I don’t want to pay for yours. I assume as a rabbi and based on Jewish law, with the exception of rape, incest, etc., you are against abortion as birth control, or at least taxpayer funded abortion?

    2. The plan will include some sort of “independent panel” as Obama called it (whatever that is) who would review options for seniors near the end of their lives and decide that they may not be deserving enough of a procedure they may need to live longer. Surely, that wouldn’t reconcile with the Jewish preservation of life would it?

  • Lastly, let me point out the obvious that is always left out of this debate. The belief that Healthcare is a right. It’s not. It’s your responsibility as a person and as a parent, to take care of yourself and your family. Like you are expected to feed yourself, you are expected to live a healthy life and put in place your own safety net in case you get hurt or become ill. Say you don’t have health care and are pondering having kids… think twice. Having children isn’t a right either. You want to breath on this earth, well, that’s free. Shit, so is love. But everything else, comes with a price. As it should. As long as there are productive people and lazy people, that’s the fairest way.

  • AlexK:

    “And that’s the way it ought to stay and has always worked within Capitalist systems, systems which do more good for the world over than any crappy nanny state does for its own people.”

    I dare you to name a developed nation that has superior health care outcomes to the United States.

    “In addition, if we as Jews are concerned with preserving life, then we should all be deathly afraid and against this monstrosity of a bill that would nationalize health care”

    There’s no nationalization of anything in the bill that’s getting serious consideration. Private insurers will still be the main (and in some versions of the bill, the only) providers of health insurance.

    “if not for the fact that it will cost a shitload, will not work, will leave us worse off than before, and fracture the country’s people:”

    A very large portion of the additional cost will be paid for by other efficiency improvements in the bill.

    “A government plan will provide government funds for abortions. I personally don’t care if people get abortions, but I don’t want to pay for yours.”

    There are two problems with this clause:

    1. The current version of the bill, as amended, *explicitly denies* coverage for abortions in the public plan, and stipulates that private insurers that choose to cover abortions must find use private money for it.

    2. The public plan will NOT be paid for by taxpayers. Even if it *did* cover abortions, you would not be paying for it unless you personally enrolled in the public plan.

    “2. The plan will include some sort of “independent panel” as Obama called it (whatever that is) who would review options for seniors near the end of their lives and decide that they may not be deserving enough of a procedure they may need to live longer. Surely, that wouldn’t reconcile with the Jewish preservation of life would it?”

    The bill does not contain anything like that.

    Educate yourself on the bill and stop being a tool for the insurance industry and the Christian conservatives that don’t give a damn about the Jewish value of preserving life, OK?

    • I dare you to name a developed nation that has superior health care outcomes to the United States.

      In alphabetical order: Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

  • “The belief that Healthcare is a right. It’s not.”

    Whether or not health care is a ‘right’ is irrelevant.

    Reform would benefit just about everyone except maybe a few health insurance executives. If you need evidence of that, you can look only to the fact that a lot of economists *support* health care reform. There is a substantial body of academic work that would indicate that while the free market ideal is preferable in most markets, there are so many market failures in health insurance that government involvement can (and in many approaches, does) create superior result and (in the case of the US) would do so at lower costs due to decreased overall risk.

    The question shouldn’t be whether health care is a right. It should be whether or not health insurance prices should be set by a competitive market where the pool of patients is large enough to minimize the overall risk to insurers.

    Anyone who knows anything about economics would say yes to that. Insurance companies don’t like the market being competitive (because it would force them to lower their prices), but even they would love lower overall risk because it makes them insuring people a more profitable prospect.

    • Heh, Kari, no problem.

      A few years ago I translated a paper that presented the findings of studies that looked into how the built environments of hospitals in the US affected clinical outcome; the studies found that on average, US nurses wash their hands once in between seven patients – even ones with contagious diseases and open wounds. Most industrialised nations don’t permit open bay areas in hospitals; those studies indicated those open bay areas were still pretty common in the US…

      The only thing more scary I’ve experienced was when I was living in Britain and the NHS (National Health Service; Britain’s socialised medical care system) recruited hopeful nurses through radio ads promoting “fast-track-nursing” classes of four weekends. Over here, hospitals have got the nursing colleges on site, and trainees shift between periods of practical and theoretical training. The apprenticeship / studies takes three years. For sure, I was glad enough that my travel insurance provider would have flown me out of Britain with one of their own mobile hospital planes in case of emergency. In Britain, it is not uncommon that urgent, life-saving surgeries are scheduled months ahead in the future – unless you’ve got the financial means to escape the socialised health care system.

  • Don’t forget France!

    Alex, Muffti would respect this line of thought a great deal more if it was coupled with strong demands that the US get rid of medicare and medicaid. And dropping free healthcare for members of congress. In the world you seem to like based on fairness, THAT would be fair. Until then, the unsystematic dolling out of healthcare in the shitty, broken way that is being done which threatens to entirely bankrupt the country with unfunded obligations makes healthcare reform a necessity, not a matter of rights or fairness.

    Muffti should throw in that he sympathizes for once a bit with the right that there should be tort reform as part of a manner of keeping costs down, though how that reform should go is still somewhat mysterious to him.

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