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Jewish groups decry House approval of Republican health care bill

(JTA) – Jewish groups criticized the passage of a health care bill by the House of Representatives to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act.

The bill, backed by Republicans and President Donald Trump, passed Thursday, May 4, in a 217-213 vote almost entirely along party lines. The measure, which is now headed for the Senate, would nix tax penalties for those without health insurance and decrease state programs to insure low-income Americans expanded by President Barack Obama.

Among those that criticized the passage were the Reform movement, the Jewish Federations of North America, B’nai B’rith International, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and Jewish Women International. However, the Republican Jewish Coalition praised the bill as “an important legislative victory for President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.”

The Reform movement said it was “deeply disheartened” by the bill’s passage.

“This reverses the tremendous progress that has been made in recent years to increase the number of Americans with health insurance,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the movement’s policy arm, the Religious Action Center, said in a statement. “We urgently call on the Senate to reject this  profoundly harmful legislation.”

Jewish Federations said it was “distressed” by the approval.

“We are distressed by the House passage of this legislation that would literally gut Medicaid, which provides an essential safety net for millions of Americans,” William Daroff, director of the umbrella group’s Washington office and its senior vice president for public policy, said in a statement.

“Jewish Federations’ network of health and social service agencies depends on Medicaid to care for the vulnerable who rely upon it.”

B’nai B’rith said the act would harm senior citizens.

“We strongly urge the Senate to reject the House plan, which would have a negative consequence for many communities, including low-income seniors,” the group said in a statement.

The National Council of Jewish Women called the health care bill a “disastrous and short-sighted campaign.”

“The House vote today repealing the Affordable Care Act and substituting a convoluted mix of provisions that will hurt consumers and impact the many components of our health care system, is a disgraceful act in our country’s long struggle to provide affordable quality health care to all Americans,” NCJW’s CEO, Nancy Kaufman, said in a statement.

Jewish Women International said the the bill “will harm women, families, the elderly and the poor” and called it “a careless, undisciplined effort by the president to make everyone think he is fulfilling a campaign pledge and it will wreak havoc on our nation, including the very people who supported him.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Senate Republicans to reject the bill.

“This bill is going nowhere fast in the United States Senate,” Schumer, the Jewish Senate minority leader, said in a statement. “Rather than trying to pass a different version of the same Trumpcare bill that would mean higher costs and less care, Senate Republicans should refuse to follow their House colleagues over a cliff, reject repeal, and work with Democrats to improve our health care system in a bipartisan way.”

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