Obamacare elicits Jewish reactions ahead of March 31 enrollment deadline

The first annual sign-up deadline for Obamacare passes Monday at midnight. Credit: Screenshot of healthcare.gov. 

(JNS.org) The first annual sign-up deadline for the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," passes at midnight March 31. Early predictions indicate that that the new healthcare insurance system could garner up to 7 million enrollees, Bloomberg News reported. In the U.S. Jewish community, opinions vary on the contested healthcare law.

Rabbi Lori Koffman, the founder and director of Mamash and a member of the National Board of the National Council of Jewish Women, wrote in a mid-March op-ed for JNS.org that while the Jewish sages "teach that we always have an obligation to save a life," health insurance "saves lives."

"That is why we have an obligation to try to reach every American who needs access to quality, affordable insurance, and to help each sign up through the new insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act," Koffman wrote.

But Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote in another JNS.org op-ed that Obamacare "replaces a wide variety of market-determined plans with a limited number of plans containing narrow networks of doctors and hospitals and a required set of items covered." As a result, cancer patients are losing access to the doctors and hospitals they rely on, parents are losing their trusted pediatricians, and families may not have access to the hospital nearest to their homes, according to Brooks.

"One of the most serious problems with Obamacare is that it mistakes health insurance for health care," Brooks wrote. "Obamacare supporters pretend that if every person has a health insurance plan, then they are getting the health care they need. That is simply not true." 

In the final hours before the deadline, the Obamacare enrollment website healthcare.gov has again been experiencing technical difficulties by blocking some new users from creating accounts, reported the Washington Post.

Posted on March 31, 2014 .