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Advocacy Update

On July 6th, with near unanimous support, the House of Representatives passed its version of mental health reform, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 (H.R. 2646). There is now unprecedented bipartisan agreement in both chambers of Congress on the need for mental health reform as the Senate is poised to vote on its own comprehensive mental health reform bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680). Both bills contain a number of important provisions that would, if enacted, represent a major step forward in improving the nation’s behavioral healthcare system and would have significant implications for Jewish Federation partner agencies, like Jewish family and children’s agencies. Key elements of both bills include: expanding the resources for community crisis response; promoting the integration of health and mental health care; studying mental health and substance abuse parity; and improving coordination among federal agencies serving people with mental illness.

Please urge your senators to pass the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 without delay. Click here for more information about the mental health reform legislation. For questions on this or other advocacy efforts, please contact Liz Leibowitz, AJFCA’s Director of Government Affairs. 

AJFCA's Legislative Monthly Wrap Up is available. Its contents includes updates on recent developments regarding OAA Reauthorization Holocaust survivor guidance, mental health legislation currently being debated in Congress, and two public policy proposals that AJFCA believes would hurt the very clients our agencies serve. Click here to read about news in Washington, DC.

Let the memory of all those lost in the attack at Pulse Nightclub be a blessing. May we honor their lives with our love, resilience, and will to build a better world. Add your name to the condolence message for the LGBTQ community of Orlando at keshetonline.org.

Commit to creating a truly LGBT inclusive atmosphere at your organization by joining the Keshet-AJFCA Leadership Project.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), commemorated every year on June 15th, is an opportunity to raise awareness, engage new partners, and renew our collective commitment to the cause of elder justice. Each year, WEAAD draws more participants, garners more attention, and moves us closer to our national goals for elder justice. No matter who you are, you can take action and play a part in this effort. Learn how to get involved here.

On June 10th, a new federal interagency task force on Mental Health Parity enforcement will be holding a listening session with Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli. The session poses a unique opportunity to raise concerns as to whether AJFCA agencies providing mental health and/or substance abuse treatment services are encountering possible violations of the mental health parity law. Agencies that believe they have experienced violations or that know about state parity enforcement activities, are encouraged to contact Liz Leibowitz, AJFCA Director of Government Affairs.

In response to the increasing needs of Holocaust survivors living in the U.S., Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced a bipartisan and bicameral concurrent resolution (H.Con.Res.129/S.Con.Res.36) that urges the German Government to fully fulfill its financial responsibility to provide for the ongoing needs of vulnerable Holocaust survivors. S.Con.Res.36 is currently circulating in the Senate for cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. H.Con.Res.129 was passed out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 18th and could be brought for a vote on the House floor in the coming weeks, though it continues to circulate for cosponsors. AJFCA supports this concurrent resolution as we believe it sends a strong message to the German Government regarding their responsibility to meet the immediate needs of Holocaust survivors. If you are interested in advocating for this resolution, we encourage you to contact your House and Senate members to urge them to cosponsor and vote for H.Con.Res.129/S.Con.Res.36. Senate offices can join as a cosponsor by contacting Matt Williams in Senator Nelson's office. House offices can join as a cosponsor by contacting Casey Kustin in Congressman Deutch's office. For more information, please email Liz Leibowitz, AJFCA's Director of Government Affairs.

On May 18th, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its final regulations that will change overtime pay rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rules, which will be effective as of December 1st, increase the minimum salary level for "white collar" employees to qualify as exempt from overtime pay requirements. Compared to the current minimum salary level of $23,660, the final rules state that no employee who has a guaranteed salary of less than $47,476 will qualify as exempt under the executive, administrative, or professional exemptions. Nonetheless, DOL also announced that it would delay enforcement of the rules for providers of Medicaid-funded services to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in residential homes and facilities with 15 or fewer beds through March 17, 2019. These changes will not impact hourly or other non-exempt workers, who are already eligible for overtime pay. DOL has confirmed that there is no general exemption from overtime requirements for nonprofit employers and has created a fact sheet to aid nonprofits in complying with the new overtime rules. If you were unable to make the webinar on the rules changes hosted by Independent Sector and DOL, please find a recording here. AJFCA will continue to monitor this issue and will provide further information on learning opportunities for agencies as we learn of them. For more information, please contact Liz Leibowitz, AJFCA's Director of Government Affairs.

About 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States. Autism Awareness Month aims to "promote autism awareness and acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year." On April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, communities in nearly 150 countries participated in the Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue Campaign

How is your agency working to build awareness in your community? Share your programs and events on the AJFCA Disabilities Service Professionals Facebook page. Learn more about Autism and about Autism Awareness Month.

AJFCA was saddened by the House Judiciary Committee's vote earlier this month to advance H.R. 4731, the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act, out of Committee. House Leadership must now decide whether or not to bring this bill, which AJFCA believes would have disastrous effects for U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, to the House floor for a vote. It is vital that constituents who support refugee resettlement reach out to their House members, as well as House Leadership, and express opposition to this bill. Click here to read more about this bill and review talking points for those wishing to express their opposition to it.

AJFCA and JFNA applauded the passage of the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act, S.192, in the House of Representatives on Monday, March 21. The House passed version of S. 192, the Senate's version of the bill that passed in July 2015, included language related to Holocaust survivors for which both organizations have long advocated. In advance of the vote, AJFCA and JFNA sent a joint letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce voicing strong support for the legislation.

Because of changes in the House's version of the bill, S.192 will now return to the Senate for a vote. Should it pass there, it will head to the President's desk. We will continue to follow this bill and provide updates. If you have any questions regarding this bill, please email Liz Leibowitz.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a limited initiative to permit some Medicaid providers, such as long-term care facilities, behavioral health providers, substance abuse treatment centers, and others to connect to health information exchanges. An issue of importance to many AJFCA agencies, additional funding in this area could help some providers move forward in their efforts to coordinate patient care with physicians and hospitals in their communities through the use of health information technology. To learn more, we encourage you to read this memo created by our colleagues at JFNA's Strategic Healthcare Resource Center that provides an initial analysis of CMS' recent announcement.

The Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, of which AJFCA is a member, is circulating a clergy sign-on letter for H.R. 3130, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, and S.1520, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act. These bills would close loopholes that currently allow some convicted abusers and all convicted stalkers to buy and own guns. If you think a clergy member in your community would be interested in joining the letter, we encourage you to share this information with them.

The issue of get abuse, in which a husband refuses or delays giving a Jewish divorce to his spouse, is one of the unique forms of domestic abuse in our community. Educating the next generation about the issue and normalizing the use of the rabbinically approved pre-nuptial agreement will be key to ending this form of abuse.

JWI is developing an exciting and innovative national educational and public awareness campaign, Project Get Smart, for Orthodox teens.

Please complete this brief survey to help JWI learn about your current programs and your interest in participating as a direct service provider. JWI is seeking strong partners around the country to implement this project over the next two years.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to be tight-lipped about the status of the proposed regulations released last summer that would require employers to pay overtime wages to employees making $50,440 or less per year. Reports continue to indicate that DOL is diligently processing over 250,000 comments received and plan to release final regulations this summer with an effective date prior to the end of the calendar year. Learn more here. For more information, contact Liz Leibowitz.

AJFCA's Director of Older Adult & Disabilities Services, Liz Woodward, was honored to be among the more than 100 attendees at the White House Convening on Inclusion of Americans with Disabilities in the Jewish Community. The meeting included speeches from Matt Nosanchuk, Associate Director & Liaison to the Jewish Community, Maria Town, Associate Director & Liaison to the Disability Community, both at the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State who discussed how far disability rights have come and how far we have yet to go both in the Jewish and general community. Opening remarks were followed by a panel discussion on the state of accessibility and inclusion with leaders from JFNA, Hillel International, Anachnu, and the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities with additional input from members of the audience. A major theme throughout the convening was the importance of listening to and partnering with those with expertise and experience in facing and overcoming barriers to access the Jewish community. By working together to take on the responsibility of being inclusive and sharing the expense of resources that make our communities more accessible, all members of the community benefit.

If your agency has an inclusion committee or coordinator please share details with Liz.

On February 9, the Administration released The President's Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The Budget contains a number of increases in programs of vital importance to the AJFCA community, including an
increase of over $28.4 million over the FY2016 enacted levels for the Administration for Community Living (ACL). ACL's programs serve older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. To learn more,
click here and here. Of particular note, the President's Budget includes $2.5 million for Holocaust Survivors. If you have specific questions regarding the Budget, please email AJFCA's Director of Government Affairs, Liz Leibowitz.

AJFCA was proud to be among the co-sponsors of the 2016 JDAD on February 10th. During the meeting over 140 professionals and advocates from across the country came together to learn about and advocate for legislation impacting persons with disabilities and caregivers. Participants learned about disability policy in the Obama Administration, listened to a panel of experts discuss competitive integrated employment, received policy briefings on the Transition to Independence Act (S.1604), the Lifespan Respite Care reauthorization Act (H.R.3913) and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act (H.R.3099) from policy experts at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and AARP, enjoyed a luncheon featuring speeches by members of Congress, and spent the afternoon in advocacy meetings with members of the House of Representatives. Use the following links to read the legislative briefings for H.R.3099, H.R.3915 and S.1604 from the Jewish Federations of North America.

AJFCA VISTA members both led and engaged in volunteer activities on MLK Day. Two VISTAs worked to support projects aimed at impacting food insecurity for community members living in poverty. See pictures and read more here.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., are joining forces for the second year in a row to raise visibility during January - Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This effort is designed to unify a collective Jewish voice, online and on-the-ground in communities nationwide, to energize grassroots involvement and spur community action to #EndJHumanTrafficking. Learn more about AJFCA's participation here.

The White House has released their report for the 2015 Conference on Aging. This past July the Administration held the 6th White House Conference on Aging, which was intended to focus attention on the issues and needs confronting seniors and those who serve them. Click here to view the report.

People with disabilities have many gifts and talents to share, as well as the need for community, support and comfort provided by Jewish organizations.

Participating in Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month in February gives your organization the opportunity to engage your entire community in the important work of ensuring that ALL Jews, without regard to ability, have access to Jewish life-to work, live, love, play, learn and worship as they choose, where they choose, and to contribute to this wonderful place we call our Jewish community.

The Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Guide provides many resources and ideas to assist you in programming, whether in your own organization or as community-wide initiatives.

Please share your plans for JDAIM with the AJFCA network via the AJFCA Disabilities Services Professionals Facebook page.

The Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, of which AJFCA is a member, will host a briefing call on Thursday, January 21st, at 12pm EST for coalition members, clergy, and lay leaders to learn more about the intersection of domestic violence and guns, as well as current legislation that has been introduced to deal with this issue. The call will feature a policy expert and a clergyperson. To sign up, click here.

On September 30 of this year, Congress passed a short term continuing resolution (CR) that kept the government funded through December 11. It was hoped that members of Congress would be able to pass legislation this week, known as an omnibus spending bill, to set funding levels through fiscal year 2016. Unfortunately, as of Thursday, December 10, members in the Senate and the House have still been unable to agree on certain aspects of the legislation. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate passed a five day CR, and it appears likely that the House will pass the measure as well. This CR would give lawmakers until midnight on December 16 to finish work on the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill. One of the biggest roadblocks that Congress will have to overcome is the desire of some members to include controversial add-ons, known as "riders," to the bill to advance major policy objectives. The most high-profile rider debate has focused on whether or not to include language that would restrict entry of Syrian refugees into the United States. 

AJFCA encourages members of Congress to reach a final agreement by December 16 and to not include divisive riders that could lead to a government shutdown.

The German Bundestag decided on May 21, 2015 that former Soviet prisoners of war should receive a symbolic payment in recognition of their time in German detention. Members of the Soviet armed forces who were detained as prisoners of war by Germany in the Second World War may receive a one-time payment. Learn more here.

In response to the escalating number of seniors struggling to put food on the table, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger has launched the second year of its senior hunger initiative to help low-income, food-insecure seniors get the vital nutrition assistance they need. More specifically, Solutions to Senior Hunger™, which is conducted in partnership with the AJFCA and generously funded by the Walmart Foundation, is designed to reduce the barriers that keep vulnerable seniors from enrolling in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn more here.

It is reported that the United States Department of Labor will delay the implementation and may make some modest changes to the final regulations on overtime pay. According to DOL officials, the earliest they expect to issue final regulations will be late 2016 (toward the end of the Obama Administration).  DOL is currently wading through over 250,000 comments on the proposed regulations. There is speculation that the salary threshold may be lowered slightly from the $50,400 proposal.   Representatives from the charitable community have been attempting to set a meeting with senior DOL officials to discuss the implications of the proposed rules on the sector.

As a result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, members of Congress return to work this week to decide how federal funding will be spent in 2016. AJFCA and JFNA are advocating for additional funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA), which will help invaluable programs that serve seniors and keep them healthy and at home. Because of inflation and previous cuts, OAA's current funding is insufficient to meet the needs of vulnerable seniors around the country. Furthermore, we are asking for members of Congress to include $2.5 million in funding for the Holocaust Survivors Assistance program, which will help secure funding for the new Holocaust Survivors Initiative. We encourage you to call your representative and senators to tell them why increased funding for these programs is important to you and your community. Please let AJFCA's Director of Government Affairs, Liz Leibowitz know if you have any questions or updates.

RespectAbility's new National Leadership Program will attract college and graduate students with or without disabilities who wish to enter the disability advocacy field. The program will offer hands-on work experiences and coaching over a period of at least nine weeks in a supportive environment. Fellows participating in the National Leadership Program will learn public policy, advocacy, and strategic communications techniques from top professionals through hands-on work. Learn more here

Observed annually on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), was established fifteen years ago as a day set aside for remembering the lives of those gender expansive and gender non-conforming individuals who were viciously murdered for being themselves. Please join Keshet in advancing transgender inclusion in your Jewish community by observing Transgender Day of Remembrance. Resources and events taking place across the country can be found here.

Last week I stood in a room full of Jewish leaders who made me hopeful about the future of the Jewish world. These leaders—from 16 Jewish day schools, synagogues, camps, Hillels, and community organizations—came to Keshet’s Boston Leadership Summit to study together, discuss LGBT inclusion practices, and create action plans for greater LGBT inclusion within their institutions in the coming year.

These leaders are ready to go beyond acceptance and move towards proactive inclusion, devoting their time and resources to intentionally working to create communities where inclusion is a central value.

I love what one religious school teacher from a Conservative synagogue said when asked what the most significant thing she gained from the day: ”Being LGBT friendly is more than welcoming someone with your words—it takes systematic planning on the program and policy levels.”

I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the coming year.

Below are some of our favorite photos from the day—take a look! And check out our full album of photos here.

What Does Inclusion Look Like? July 24, 2014, Keshet, by Chasiah Haberman

The Disability Equality Index measures disability inclusion policies and practices. The DEI is an online tool that gives an objective score to businesses. The tool is sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the US Business Leadership Network. Learn more here.

JFNA, AJFCA & IAJVS member agencies came together in Washington, DC this past Tuesday and Wednesday for the 2014 Government Affairs Institute & Advocacy Mission.  This was an opportunity to hear from speakers on policy issues that matter most to our agencies, discuss advocacy issues, receive briefings at the White House from key Government officials, lunch with Congressional members, and have the opportunity to make Hill visits to their local representatives.  
 
Click here to see highlights of the GAI in photos - more pictures will be added in the coming days.  For information on how you can get more involved with AJFCA's Legislative Agenda - contact Washington Director Shelley Rood.
 

As part of Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, AJFCA members joined Lee Sherman and AJFCA's new Director of Older Adult & Disabilities Services Liz Woodward for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on February 6 hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Speakers from the Collaboration to promote Self-Determination and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities briefed a collection of over 40 members of Jewish social service and disability advocacy organizations on 2 important pieces of legislation to promote inclusion: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty and the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE). Participants also visited over 30 congressional offices to advocate for support of these policies.

Support these important pieces of legislature to promote better inclusion of people with disabilities at home and across the world by contacting your congressman. Learn more about the issues here:

In 2005, the United Nations declared January 27 an international memorial day for t
he victims of the Holocaust. In honor of this, Tablet Magazine asked photographer Jason Florio to take humane portraits of a small sampling of New York's Holocaust survivors--to avoid remembering the Shoah in the abstract, and to remind readers of the dignified specificity of each survivor's life.  Click here to view the nine portraits, and listen to the short audio interviews that accompany each one.

Tablet Magazine Creates Stunning Collection of Survivors' Stories

You can help make it a Social Media phenomenon!
 
Use #JDAM14 when you post links, shares and comments about including people with disabilities in Jewish life.

Discussion in the press of the testimony heard at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing January 15 continues.  A key element to the testimony of many of the witnesses was that Holocaust survivors are better off aging in their own homes.  The emotional triggers that can be set off by institutional care can be devastating for them. Things that other residents would likely ignore can take aging Holocaust survivors psychologically and emotionally back to their traumatic youth or childhood. Confinement in an institutional setting with certain rules, schedules and uniformed staff can literally bring back nightmares.  Continue reading here.

Senate Committee Calls for Increased Funding, January 22, 2014, WashingtonJewishWeek, by Suzanne Pollak

One fourth of the 140,000 survivors in America live at or below the poverty line, with institutional care unsuitable in most cases.  Holocaust survivors in the United States are better off aging at home and that requires assistance for the tens of thousands who cannot afford it, according to the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Government programs and health insurance providers generally favor institutional over home care for elderly needing assistance.  For many of these seniors, this means staying in their homes to receive medical care in their twilight years, a model of care not supported by the traditional Medicaid model. Read more here.

US Probes Plight of Impoverished Holocaust Survivors, January 17, 2014, The Times of Israel, by JTA

Led by survivor Jack Rubin of Boynton Beach, Fla., Holocaust survivors and family members told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that money made available to Holocaust survivors didn't come close to paying for home health care services, hearing aids, dental care and the other costs of the aging population.  Lee Sherman, president of the Baltimore-based Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies, said that even survivors who had adapted well in America may experience triggers late in life, especially if those problems are compounded by dementia or Alzheimer's. "Some Holocaust survivors may resort to hiding food in their rooms, insecure about when their next meal will come, and how much food will be available to them," he told the committee.  Continue reading the article here

The full video of the Committee hearing is available to watch on the website of the Special Aging Committee.  

Check out photos and screenshots highlighting all participants in the hearing on the AJFCA facebook page.


U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Hears Testimony on Unique Needs of Holocaust Survivors. Holocaust Survivors Say Germany Needs to Help Ease Poverty Among Aging Members, January 15, 2014, News Observer, by Chris Adams

Lee Sherman, President/CEO of AJFCA, has been invited to testify on
January 15 before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. At the hearing, referred to as Aging in Comfort: Assessing the Special Needs of America's Holocaust Survivors, Lee will be one of five witnesses.  He has been asked to address the unique issues of Holocaust Survivors and the social services available to meet their distinct needs.  The hearing will be live streamed on the Special Committee on Aging website.

AJFCA's Lee Sherman to Testify Before U.S. Senate

Lately, there has been a lot of attention given to an issue that is impacting hospital patients and their families called "observation stays." To many people, this is an obscure, "in-the-weeds" problem. To the individuals that it affects, it's the difference between receiving the care that a person needs or cutting recovery and rehabilitation short, which can have long-term negative effects on a person's functional abilities and independence. The problem is growing, and thousands of Medicare beneficiaries from across the country are losing access to their Medicare Part A skilled nursing care facility benefits - all because of a hospital classification called "outpatient observation."  Continue reading here.

Don't Deny Seniors Nursing Care, December 26, 2013, The Hill, By Mark Parkinson

Healthcare is one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, and direct care is a substantial part of that growth. Almost five million Americans earn a living as direct-care workers, slightly more than those working in retail sales (4.97 million), and significantly more than teachers (3.9 million) or law enforcement and public safety workers (3.7 million). In addition to being one of the largest, it's also one of the grayest segments of our economy. The graying of the direct-care workforce is somewhat logical. The jobs are typically part-time and do not require substantial training, making such work an easier fit for a senior looking to reenter or extend their time in the workforce. Direct-care employees include nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aids, and independent providers. Read more here.  

The Changing Face of Caregivers in the U.S., January 8, 2014, Nonprofit Quarterly, by Jennifer Amanda Jones

We have EXTENDED registration until Friday, January 17th, for the 2014 Government Affairs Institute (GAI) and AJFCA Advocacy Mission.  The GAI will be held from Tuesday, February 4 - Wednesday, February 5, 2014, in Washington, DC, and you can register through this link. It is advised you register immediately to allow time to schedule hill visits.  If you have any questions please contact Shelley Rood.

On December 10th, Vice-President Biden announced a $100 million in new funding for mental health services.   The funds would be split evenly between the Department of Agriculture which will focus on rural mental health, and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) which will target improved access to mental health services within Community Health Centers (CHCs).  Unlike Community Mental Health Centers (a vague umbrella term which encompasses many of our Jewish Family & Children's Agencies) , CHC's are federally qualified and will be eligible for these funds.  After performing due diligence, it appears that these funds will not directly benefit our agencies.  However, should these agencies have productive relationships (or, better  yet, partnerships) with CHC's, our partner agencies should work constructively with them to see if a collaboration is possible.

On December 12th, the Senate Finance Committee reported out legislation related to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR / also known as the "doc fix") and on Medicare Therapy Caps.   AJFCA remains supportive of this language.  Within the language reported out, there was a provision included regarding Excellence in Mental Health Act Demonstration projects.  The Excellence Act is a bipartisan bill (S. 264 - Stabenow/Blunt) which seeks to add additional funding to community health providers who qualify for a new certification status (Certified Behavioral Health Centers).   The proposal would establish a 10 state demonstration program where states that participate would certify mental health providers who would need to meet a high standard of care and offer a broad range of mental health services such as:

  • Crisis psychiatric services available on a 24 hour basis and screening
  • Evidence based and integrated treatment for mental illness, substance abuse,and trauma including cognitive behavioral therapy, applied behavioral analysis, and medication management
  •  Expanded peer support and counselor services for individuals and families
  • Integrated preventive screening  for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease

These services would be reimbursed under Medicaid in a similar arrangement to Federally Qualified Community Health Centers.    The proposal would cost $1.6 Billion over 10 years.

The House/Senate Budget agreement was approved by the Senate following the House vote the previous week.  Within those provisions (which  the President has signed), there is language regarding a three month extension for both the Doc Fix and  the moratoria on the Medicare Therapy Caps taking effect.  If you have any questions about any of the Washington Update information, please contact Shelley Rood.

Biden Proposes U.S. Aid For Holocaust Survivors: Matching Grants Could Provide Up to $30 Million in Relief for Aging Victims
Biden Proposes U.S. Aid for Holocaust Survivors, December 18, 2013, The New York Jewish Week, by Stewart Ain.
Vice President Joe Biden announced outlines of the new initiative last week. The administration has been meeting since last spring with several Jewish organizations - including the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), the JDC, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Association of Jewish Family and Children's Agencies - to understand the magnitude of the problem.
 
Lee Sherman, President and CEO of the Association of Jewish Family and Children's Agencies in Baltimore, said "most of this money will flow through our member agencies that are currently supporting survivors. They know the needs."  Read the full article here.

Biden Proposes U.S. Aid For Holocaust Survivors: Matching Grants Could Provide Up to $30 Million in Relief for Aging Victim
s

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice proudly announces that Stosh Cotler will take over as the new CEO of the organization next year.  Stepping into the role from her current position as Executive Vice President of Bend the Arc, Cotler will bring twenty years of leadership experience as an educator, trainer, and organizer within social and economic justice movements to the position. Bend the Arc's board of directors voted unanimously to approve the transition earlier this month, and in February 2014 Cotler will replace departing CEO Alan van Capelle, who is leaving to become CEO of The Educational Alliance.  Continue reading here.

Cotler to Lead Bend the Arc Through New Phase of Growth; Alan van Capelle to Depart in February, December 16, 2014, Bendthearc.us,by Jonathan Lipman

Last week, the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee voted to move forward with  legislation (HR 2810) calling for a permanent repeal to the Medicare's doc fix and therapy cap provisions.   If passed by both chambers and enacted by the President, these long sought reforms will become reality and improve finance and delivery of care to our partner agencies and the Medicare beneficiaries that depend on our network of agencies every day.  Read the full announcement from JFNA's Jonathan Westin.  Please feel free to contact Shelley Rood, AJFCA's Washington Director, for further information.

Taking Positive Steps Toward Medicare and Behavioral Health Reform

 

The Association of Jewish Family & Children's agencies (AJFCA) welcomed Vice President Joe Biden's announcement at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's (JDC) Centennial luncheon to launch an initiative together with the Jewish community to address the needs of Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the United States.  This announcement follows years of conversations between the White House, Members of Congress, and Jewish Family and Children's Service agencies and Federations to address the social service needs of Holocaust survivors through fundraising and legislative efforts such as the RUSH Act. Click here for details.

Vice President Biden Announces Initiative to Support Holocaust Survivors

"Jen's Law" Passes New Jersey Senate Committee, New Jersey Senate Democrats, December 5, 2013, by Adam Neary

AJFCA is proud of the advocacy efforts of Board Member, Jennifer Weiss.  "Jen's Law" would exempt sales tax for cosmetic make-up services performed in conjunction with reconstructive breast surgery, when directed by a physician.  At the final stage of breast reconstruction surgery, women often decide to use permanent cosmetic make-up to create the appearance of a pre-mastectomy breast.  The bill is named after Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, who had a double mastectomy after it was discovered that she had a high risk for getting breast cancer.  The legislation passed the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 7-0.

"Jen's Law" Passes New Jersey Senate Committee, New Jersey Senate Democrats, December 5, 2013, by Adam Neary

washington postAs the leaders of faith communities, we understand the heartbreak of a mother or father who cannot afford enough food to feed her or his children. We see and share in it almost daily in our houses of worship across the country. And it is precisely because the faith community is so involved in alleviating hunger that we support SNAP and other government solutions that reduce need and protect vulnerable people. Indeed, our faith traditions require a commitment, not only to personal charity, but also to systemic and communal justice.  Continue reading here.

Hunger in America Is A Moral Crisis that Government Must Help Solve, December 5, 2013, The Washington Post, By Nancy K.Kaufman, Gradye Parsons

 

National Human Services Assembly Releases Report on Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families

national human servcies assembly logo Over 1.4 million youth ages 15-24 are out-of-school and out-of-work and raising dependent children. Too often, their early lack of education and work experience traps their family in the cycle of poverty for generations. The National Human Services Assembly has released a report investigating the best practices for two-generation approaches for combating poverty - the first of its kind! The report reached out to 32 organizations across the nation, including AJFCA and Jewish Family Service San Diego, and the key findings for what makes these programs so effective are broadly applicable to programs across the country.  Access the report here.

National Human Services Assembly Releases Report on Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families

Many nonprofits, especially human services, are struggling with reduced funding from government and donors. A solution to the shortfall could involve changing the way that nonprofits explain their missions. It's a matter of choosing the right words, a process known as framing, and it can affect donors' thinking. The theory of framing suggests that human decision-making can be influenced by subtle changes in presentation, instead of arguments or facts.  The theory of framing suggests that human decision-making can be influenced by subtle changes in presentation, instead of arguments or facts. Continue reading here.

Group Hopes To Re-Frame Human Services Using Neuroscience, November 1, 2013, The NonProfitTimes, By Marty Daks

Physical accommodation for people with disabilities isn't new to the Jewish world. Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, recalls that when he worked in Connecticut during the 1990s, local congregation Temple Beth Israel became one of the first synagogues to design its bima to include a ramp. "I was very impressed," he says. Read more about inclusion at institutions in the Jewish community.

Embracing Those With Disabilities, November 18, 2013, eJP, by Jan Jaben-Eilon

Meet Rachel and Dana. These Israeli women, both in their late twenties, experienced a life passage recently that for many occurs at a much earlier age: they signed leases to move into their first apartments all on their own. The twist? Rachel and Dana both have severe physical disabilities that at one time might have consigned them for life to state institutions. But today, that is not their destiny. Read more about inclusion efforts in the Jewish community.

Our Inclusion Journey is Just Beginning, November 13, 2013, eJP, by Alan Gill

 

Caring for older adults in need is a core value in the Jewish community.  We know that serving seniors with care and dignity is a key service area to many AJFCA member agencies. But what about aging seniors who are caregivers for their adult children with disabilities? These clients have an additional layer of concern beyond their own care. Who will care for their adult children with physical and developmental disabilities when they are not able to? How can the aging parents ensure their disabled children are taken care of while also seeking increasing assistance with daily living themselves? A potential funder recently asked Lee about this issue. We feel sure that our member agencies are addressing the critical issue of caregiver transition planning in your communities, and we would love to hear what you are doing. Maybe you have healthy senior volunteers helping care for the adult children. Or you may be providing life coaching and training to the adult children to help them manage some of their own care. Potentially you are providing assistance to the aging parent in planning for the future.
 
Which strategies are the most successful? Please email Lee your effective strategies for addressing this growing crisis in our communities, including programs you are currently operating as well as any new programs you are planning to launch to address the issue. We would be keenly interested as well in ideas for how AJFCA can become involved in supporting your efforts. We are looking forward to making a difference to these aging seniors and their children with disabilities together.

November 1st marked the end of the 2009 Recovery Act boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While intended to be a temporary boost, Congress, in 2010, shortened the timeline of this ARRA supplement to pay for other priorities (i.e., FMAP (Medicaid) aid to States and teachers' salaries). Perhaps in 2010, Congress expected a quicker recovery than what has occurred. We can expect that these cuts will cause hardship for some SNAP participants. Hunger, food insecurity, joblessness, and poverty remain at unacceptably high levels for large numbers of people in the United States, including 10 million who live in "deep poverty" with family incomes below half of the poverty line, 22 million children, and 9 million people who are elderly or have a serious disability.

In turn, when SNAP benefits are reduced or run out, community food banks, shelters and related community-based recipients of the supplemental Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP) experience greater demands leading to shortages and wait lists for assistance. Right now, conference negotiators of the Farm Bill are determining the level of cuts to SNAP of between $4 billion and $40 billion over the next 10 years. Whether speaking of SNAP (that serves the long-term food insecure) or EFSP (that serves those on the cusp of economic crises), the demand for assistance has jumped in concert with the prolonged economic recovery.

Over the past few weeks, millions of Americans visited HealthCare.gov to look at their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans. Read more on the HHS Blog. Share your Marketplace consumer experience issues here.

Helpful Resources
Area Health & Dental Plans

  • First, use this calculator to find out if you qualify for lower costs on coverage.
  • After you calculate your savings, try our new tool to preview Marketplace plans and prices.
  • The prices shown on this tool don't reflect the lower costs most people may qualify for based on household size and income.
  • Households with yearly incomes up to about $46,000 for individuals or $94,000 for a family of 4 may qualify.

Final price quotes based on your individual circumstances are available only after you complete a Marketplace application. If you need help with your application, you can contact the 24/7 call center.
 
Consumer Applications
Click here to view a table with quick links to all of the applications available on Healthcare.gov.
 

We have learned that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue its final rule on the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008 within the next few weeks. As many of you will recall, for over two decades, AJFCA and our partner Jewish federations and Jewish family and children's service agencies worked arduously to obtain substantive parity legislation. The 2008 law builds upon the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 by updating the statute related to managed care changes that have altered the healthcare landscape. Please read this background about the Act in anticipation of the final rule and contact Shelley Rood with questions.

The federal government shutdown ended Wednesday night and the United States did not default on its debt obligations, which could have occurred Thursday. Read more about what the deal entails.

House and Senate negotiators could meet for the first time next week to work on the new $500 billion U.S. farm bill, more than a year past due and repeatedly delayed by House Republican plans for steep cuts in food stamps for the poor. Continue reading here.

U.S. Farm Bill Negotiators May Begin Work Next Week, October 16, 2013, Reuters, by Charles Abbott

The government shutdown is an evolving story. We are slowly receiving information on the overall implications of the shutdown on services. The White House Office of Management and Budget has a website of each agency's official contingency plan. In addition, there is a website with a hotline and up-to-date information about the shutdown. Click here for an overview of program details.

The White House has requested our assistance in identifying stories of individuals and families who have been affected by the government shutdown. If your agency has specific examples of clients who have been adversely affected by the lack of services or funding, please email Shelley Rood.

The Claims Conference announced the launch of its Caregiver Support Seminars,   an online series of presentations providing advice and information to family caregivers of Holocaust victims, covering medical, emotional and legal concerns presented by health care specialists in fields ranging from gerontology and psychology to dementia. Learn more here.

Individuals with mental illnesses die earlier than the general population, and often experience co-occurring health conditions. How can the integration of primary and behavioral healthcare change this? The SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions' new infographic explores the problem and illustrates the impact on communities and individuals.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains hyper-political, as you know, enrollment has begun. This memo provides information regarding the opening of the marketplaces in the event you should receive queries regarding enrollment.

Clearly the government shutdown is at the top of our minds, as well as the continuing lead news story of the week.

The shutdown is obviously hyper-political. Thus, at this point, we do not think it would be wise for agencies to become intricately vocal in a way that looks like we are engaged in this partisan food fight.

That said, depending on the duration of the shutdown, its impact on the programs and services may be drastic and severe. We have already heard from some agencies about programs being suspended, as well as key staff with whom we interact being furloughed. The Office of Management and Budget has a list of agencies' contingency plans including the plan for the Department of Health and Human Services.

At this point, we are continuing to stress what we've stressed throughout sequestration: while cuts in governmental spending may be necessary, they should not disproportionately impact the vulnerable populations who require them for their survival and sustenance.

We will provide more guidance as we receive it. In the meantime, please send Shelley Rood any notices you receive about the effects of the government shutdown on your programs.

A lot is happening at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Secmsrvices (CMS) as they get ready to launch the Health Insurance Marketplace. Below are some helpful resources and updates as you continue providing outreach and education.

  • Resources for Partners: CMS has developed toolkits and factsheet for certain populations. Check them out here.
  • Need hard copies of materials to distribute on October 1st? CMS has a limited quantity of materials available for order. If you are interested in ordering products, click here to set up an account to order. However, feel free to download and print as many as you want.
  • This week, the Obama administration announced a coordinated effort to protect consumers by preventing and detecting potential fraud in the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Read the full press release here. As part of this effort, CMS developed fraud prevention fact sheets for both assisters and consumers:

Protect Yourself from Fraud in the Health Insurance Marketplace
Tips for Assisters to Help Consumers Navigate the Marketplace
Securing the Health Insurance Marketplace

 

House leaders said they were working with their Senate counterparts toward a new five-year farm bill, just days after the House pushed through a bill that would slash billions of dollars from the food stamp program. Continue reading here.

Time Short, House Says It Seeks a New Farm Bill, September 24, 2013, New York Times, by Ron Nixon

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned congressional leaders Wednesday that he will exhaust emergency borrowing measures "no later than Oct. 17," leaving him with less than $30 billion on hand to pay the nation's bills. Read more here.

New Debt Limit Deadline is Oct. 17th, Washington Post, by Liz Montogmery

Congress has until September 30th to pass a temporary Continuing Resolution to fund the government. The House passed a continuing resolution which defunds Obamacare, and the Senate is set to vote today after stripping the provisions that defund the health care law.

Everything You Need to Know About How a Government Shutdown Works examines what it would take to create a shutdown scenario and what the effects might be.

Everything You Need to Know About How a Government Shutdown Works, September 24, 2013, Washington Post, by Brad Plumer

Colorado is suffering from unprecedented flooding that has swept through 15 counties, killing five and displacing thousands. So far, more than 1,500 people are missing in the flooding, which has wiped out roads and bridges and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, businesses and institutions. The Jewish community has not been spared from this disaster.

AJFCA member agency, Jewish Family Services of Colorado, through its Boulder office has been active in assisting flood victims. It is estimated that 30-40% of the Jewish community of Boulder has been affected by the flood.

In response to this tragedy, the Emergency Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, of which AJFCA is a member has provided $50,000 in emergency aid to the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, which is taking the lead in assessing needs and distributing funds and supplies throughout the community.  The Jewish Federations of North America has opened a mailbox to collect donations; one hundred percent of which will go toward the Allied Jewish Federation's relief effort. Click here to donate online.

The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware has established the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

A Leadership Institute will be held December 1-5, 2013 at The Pearlstone Center, near Baltimore, Maryland. Learn more here.

Have you ever heard President Obama speak about the weekly Torah portion? Or tell the story of the American Jewish experience, and our community's commitment to social change?

Well, now you can. AJFCA is proud to join with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable to present Hineni - Here I Am. This inspiring video, built around a speech by President Obama, calls on Jews to renew our commitment to our values and take action to pass immigration reform.

In a new poll of 2607 Jews done for RespectAbilityUSA.org and Jerusalem U, data shows that the Jews polled, including young Jews, felt very strongly about inclusion of Jews with disabilities. Continue reading here.

A recent editorial in The Forward discussing the effects of sequestration on the Jewish community features input from Nancy Volpert, Director of Public Policy
for JFS Los Angeles. Read the editorial here.

The Sequestration's Jewish Toll, August 26, 2013, The Jewish Daily Forward

Since 1955, Yad Vashem has worked to fulfill its mandate to preserve the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust by collecting their names, the ultimate representation of a person's identity.

Millions of victims remain unidentified. Yad Vashem urgently calls upon Jewish communities to recover their names through a worldwide Names Recovery Project. Learn more here.
 

Jewish Women International's Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community has several resources for your congregation this holiday season: A mishabarech for families experiencing abuse; shma kolenu, a short prayer for victims of abuse; and a text-based guide that explores the concept of sukkat shalom, a home of peace and security for use during Sukkot. Continue reading here.

The largest mental health and addictions advocacy event of the year is taking place in Washington, DC on September 17-18, 2013. You'll have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with your legislators, Hill staffers, and other advocates. For more information click here. Questions? Contact Kirsten Reed at 202.684.7457.

The 2014 Government Affairs Institute (GAI) will be held on February 4-5, 2014 at the Embassy Suites in Washington, DC. Save the date for this two-day event. If you are interested in helping to plan sessions, please contact Shelley Rood. Registration information will be sent via email in the future.

AJFCA applauds the introduction of the Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) Act, which if passed, would benefit Jewish family and children's service agencies. The bipartisan legislation would authorize psychiatric hospitals, community mental health providers, clinical psychologists, and addictive disorder treatment providers to participate in grant programs and qualify for financial incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). For more information and a template letter to send to your Member of Congress, please click here. Contact Shelley Rood if you have any questions.

The vast majority of older Americans aspire to "age in place," staying in their own homes and living independently for as long as possible. But as AP reporter Lauran Neergaard noted in a recent article, sometimes the ability to stay at home is less about the health of an aging senior and more about the home itself. Continue reading here.

The Necessary Support for Aging in Place: Heads Up, Nonprofits! July 29, 2013, Nonprofit Quarterly, by Eileen Cunniffe

Are your clients struggling with the financial burden of a health crisis? Order your free Financial Wellness Tool Kit and learn how to successfully navigate the often complicated issues of health insurance, disability rights, financial planning, and estate planning.
 
Sharsheret's Financial Wellness Tool Kit Includes:

  • Guidelines from experts in the field
  • Tools to record and organize your personal information
  • Vital resources
  • Helpful tips from other Jewish women who have faced illness

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) new final rule finalizes Medicaid eligibility provisions; finalizes changes related to electronic Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility notices and delegation of appeals; modernizes and streamlines existing Medicaid eligibility rules; revises CHIP rules relating to the substitution of coverage to improve the coordination of CHIP coverage with other coverage; and amends requirements for benchmark and benchmark-equivalent benefit packages consistent with sections 1937 of the Social Security Act to ensure that these benefit packages include essential health benefits and meet certain other minimum standards.
 

The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware announced the establishment of the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disability and Inclusion in Baltimore in December 2013 sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation. Read the entire press release here.
 

Congressional recesses provide an excellent opportunity for you to visit your legislators and their staff in their home offices (or invite them to your own agencies), reintroduce yourselves, and talk about your Federations' priorities for the fall legislative period. Continue reading here.
 

Many states are grappling with whether or not they will expand their Medicaid programs or whether or not they will even establish State Health Insurance Exchanges. The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering calls regarding each state's respective Affordable Care Act rollout activities. Click here to view the schedule or calls. (Calls began July 29th and run through August 2nd.) If you have questions, please contact Shelley Rood.
 

Want to find out how your organization can help millions of Americans get health coverage? If you're interested in training your staff and volunteers to assist people applying for coverage through the Federally-facilitated Marketplace (including a State Partnership Marketplace), you can apply to be a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) organization.

Join CMS for a foundational training session that will cover what you need to know to become a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) organization. (Calls began July 31st and run through August 7th.)
 

The AJFCA Legislative Task Force needs your help to make a compelling case to Congress about how sequestration cuts are hurting older adult programs. Please complete this brief survey about the Older Americans Act and sequestration. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun marking up the Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2014, and in addition, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will be marking up the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization bill on July 23rd or July 24th. Please let us know about your agency's use of OAA dollars and how sequestration may be affecting you. If you have any questions, please contact Shelley Rood. We would appreciate your responses by Monday, July 29th. Thank you in advance.
 

South Florida seniors who are frail, disabled or living alone will find it harder to get home-delivered meals now that long-predicted federal cuts in aging service dollars have reached the local level. Continue reading here.

Seniors Find it Harder to Get Home-Delivered Meals, July 8, 2013, Sun Sentinel, by Diane C. Lade

The Obama administration today kicked off the Health Insurance Marketplace education effort with a new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hours-a-day consumer call center to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for private health insurance. The new tools will help Americans understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1st. Continue reading here.

HHS Launches Health Insurance Marketplace Educational Tools, July 2, 2013, JCS Baltimore, by Paige Lee

United Health Foundation recently released its annual assessment of the health status of our nation's older adult population. In addition to state rankings, an accompanying commentary was authored by NCOA's James Firman and Richard Birkel on the value of investing in senior centers to promote health and prevent disease. See where your state ranks. Read the commentary.

America's Health Rankings Senior Report, June 27, 2013, NCOA

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to individuals who are eligible.

The SSI/SSDI application process is complicated and difficult to navigate, particularly for people who are homeless or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons or hospitals). For those who have a mental illness, substance use issues, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process poses an even greater challenge, yet accessing these income and health care benefits is often a critical first step on the road to recovery. Learn more here.

SOAR Program to Help Persons with Disabilities get SSI or SSDI Benefits, July 2, 2013, JCS Baltimore, by Mary Blake

Struggling with the financial burdens of cancer treatment? Take back control with Sharsheret's new financial health and wellness program featuring a free financial tool kit and a transcript from Sharsheret's discussion with experts in the fields of disability, trust and estates, insurance, and financial planning. Click here to contact Adina Fleischmann for more information and to request your free tool kit.

The immigration overhaul passed in the U.S. Senate includes provisions that protect a visa program used by Jewish summer camps and makes permanent a law facilitating immigration for victims of religious persecution.

The bipartisan bill passed Thursday by the Senate in a 68-32 vote creates a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

An array of Jewish groups supported the reforms and lavished praise on its passage, although the bill's fate in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is uncertain. Read more here.

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Bill, June 27, 2013, JTA

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a mark-up in mid-July on the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is an international treaty, designed to make sure people with disabilities all over the world have the same rights as they would in America. Please click here for more background on CRPD. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a mark-up on the Older Americans Act the 4th week in July. The Older Americans Act proposed bill includes the RUSH Act. Please click here for more background on the OAA/RUSH Act.

State and Federal Help is Sought to Provide Home Care Assistance
A concentration camp survivor in her early 90s refused to leave her sixth-floor walkup apartment in Union County during Superstorm Sandy, despite having no heat or electricity. Continue reading here.

Agencies Seek More Funding for Holocaust Survivors, June 26, 2013, New Jersey Jewish News, by Robert Wiener

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revamped the Medicare Summary Notice (MSN). The MSN is a quarterly notice (not a bill) sent to people with Parts A and/or B that shows all services or supplies billed during the past 3-month period. It includes information on what Medicare paid and the maximum amount your clients may owe the provider. Paper versions of the new MSNs will be sent out starting this summer. Remind your clients to review their MSN closely and report any inaccurate claims or appeal any payments/decisions with which they disagree. View a comparison of old and new MSNs. Read the CMS press release.

Newly Designed Medicare Notice, June 19, 2013, NCOA

The federal reverse mortgage program can be a lifeline for some older homeowners, but consumer protections and comprehensive counseling are critical to protecting seniors and their home equity, NCOA told Congress last week. Ramsey Alwin, senior director of our Economic Security Initiative, testified before a subcommittee examining changes in the program. Read more here.

On Capitol Hill: Why Reverse Mortgage Counseling is so Critical, June 25, 2013, NCOA

Marci Phillips, NCOA's director of Public Policy & Advocacy, was on the Lizz Brown Show earlier this month to discuss issues facing Older Americans Act (OAA) funding and reauthorization and what advocates can do. Meanwhile, the Administration on Aging (AoA) released new tables that reflect the impact of FY13 sequester cuts on OAA programs. The AoA noted earlier this year when releasing estimated sequester impacts that "[t]he statutory factors used to determine the allocations-such as funding level, population, hold harmless, minimum allotments, and guaranteed growth-vary across programs and result in variations among states in the magnitude of the reductions." Listen to the radio interview. View the OAA tables. Keep up with OAA news.

What's new with the Older Americans Act? June 11, 2013, NCOA

The new federal Commission on Long-Term Care has elected Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation, as its chair. The commission was created by the "fiscal cliff" law to advise Congress on how we can better provide and finance long-term care for older adults and people with disabilities. Continue reading here.

Federal Long-Term Care Commission Names Chair, June 12, 2013, The Scan Foundation

As most of you are aware, AJFCA, along with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has been active in advocating for the Responding to the Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust Act (RUSH). The Washington Post recently published William Daroff's column on the RUSH Act. It is very important that we increase the number of Senate cosponsors this week for this important legislation. Please read the column and use this Action Alert and  template letter as a guide to reach out to your Congressional delegation. The RUSH Act currently has 8 cosponsors in the Senate and 18 in the House.
 

AJFCA is beginning work on your behalf with an exciting new partner that we hope will bring important benefits to our network. In shaping our work, the partner has an immediate need to know which of our member agencies:

  1. Conduct outreach for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?
  2. Provide assistance to clients in applying for SNAP?

Many of you have already responded. If you have not yet responded, please do so to Sandy no later than Friday, June 21st with just a yes or no indicating if your agency engages in either or both of the activities above?
 

AJFCA along with our friends at Mazon invite you to send a strong message to Congress by mobilizing your networks to join the National Call-in Day organized for Tuesday, June 18th. This is a critical opportunity to demonstrate strong support for nutrition programs to ensure access to nutritious food for Americans struggling with hunger.

Calling Congress is easy. Here's how:

  • Call the toll-free hotline set up by Feeding America at 866-527-1087. 
  • Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted. 
  • Once you are connected to your Representative, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from. Be sure to give the name of the organization you are affiliated with. 
  • Let them know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver this important message:

As your constituent, I am asking you to vote against the House Farm Bill due to the harmful cuts to SNAP. Cuts to SNAP and SNAP-Ed would increase hunger and make it harder for families to access a nutritious diet. With so many families still struggling to put food on the table, it is important to protect and strengthen nutrition programs. I understand the need to reduce the deficit, but increasing hunger is not the way to do it.

Spread the word by sharing this call to action with your local networks and on social media.
 

As you may know, the House and Senate Appropriations committees are marking up their appropriations bills at two different levels. The Appropriations committee marks up and passes each subcommittee bill at the committee level. The following is an update on where the committees are in the process with each subcommittee's spending bill. Click here to view the Appropriations Update: FY 2014.
 

Some of you may have begun to receive letters from your county or state government office detailing how various programs will be affected by sequestration. If you receive such a notification, please email Shelley and let her know. Even if you receive an estimation of potential cuts, please let Shelley know what program this is under and how the cuts could affect you.  
 

On Thursday, June 6th the Meals On Wheels Association of America released new findings from a recent survey regarding the impacts of the sequester on Meals on Wheels and Congregate programs across the country.
 
Here is the infographic illustrating some of the findings. Here is the press release.
Please inform Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director of any cuts to your programs due to sequestration.
 

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of funding for the next iteration of grants under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). MIPPA funding is available for SHIPs, AAAs, and ADRCs to conduct benefits outreach and consumer education on Medicare Savings Programs, the Part D Low Income Subsidy, and preventive services. Apply by June 20th. See how to apply.

Call for Proposals: MIPPA, June 5, 2013, NCOA

The Current State of SNAP
The Senate passed the Farm Bill on June 10th, which includes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite the efforts of AJFCA and the nonprofit advocacy community, the SNAP program was cut by $4 billion over the next 10 years.

However, the Senate adopted by unanimous consent an amendment from Sen. Franken (D-MN) that would allow home-bound seniors and persons with disabilities to use their SNAP benefits at retailers that offer home-delivery services. Learn more about the amendments. Read more about other provisions of the Farm Bill here.  
 

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation uses the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)-an alternative measure first explored by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011-to examine senior poverty rates by state and the implications of Medicare changes. Their findings reveal that at least 10% of non-institutionalized seniors in every state live in poverty. Read the report.

A State-By-State Snapshot of Senior Poverty, May 30, 2013, NCOA

The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), signed into law on 1/14/13, takes effect on 7/14/14.

The Council on Accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of State to accredit agencies and approve persons under the requirements of UAA which applies the Hague Accreditation/Approval requirements to all agencies/persons providing "adoptions services" in cases where a child immigrates to or emigrates from the U.S. for purposes of adoption.

COA is encouraging agencies to apply ASAP to have sufficient time to complete COA's 9 -18 month Hague Accreditation/Approval process.

UAA FAQs can be found on the Department of State's website.

If you have questions about the UAA and whether it applies to your agency, please contact Zoe Hutchinson, Associate Director of Client Relations at 212-871-1972.
 

In the wake of the destruction caused by the recent Oklahoma tornadoes, Repair the World is offering micro-grants to organizations running alternative break programs that focus on relief and response efforts.
 
Alternative breaks offer young adults a hands-on opportunity to experience how the integration of service, education and reflection can create meaningful and positive change in themselves and in communities. Continue reading here.
 

Become a Sharsheret Supports Partner of Excellence and expand or create new culturally-relevant breast cancer and ovarian cancer support and educational programs for women and families in your community.
As a Partner of Excellence, your agency will receive:

  • Financial Support for Programs
  • Educational Program Development Guidance
  • Clinical Supervision for Support Group Facilitators
  • Local and National Partner Recognition

Email Link Program Coordinator Adina Fleischmann to request a Partners of Excellence application or more information. Applications are due June 30, 2013.

 

The RUSH Act to support Holocaust survivors and kosher meals under the Older Americans Act was introduced on May 21st and its provisions were included in the Older Americans Act reauthorization bill. An article appeared in the JTA. Please read this action alert and ask your members of Congress to cosponsor. A sample letter is included in the link. This is a top priority for AJFCA member agencies.

The Senate introduced an Older Americans Act reauthorization bill (S. 1028), which included provisions of the RUSH Act. We urge Senators to cosponsor the Older Americans Act and urge Congress to move the bill forward in a bipartisan manner. We understand that many OAA funded services, such as transportation and home-delivered and congregate meals, are important to your agency. If your agency receives contracts with your local Department of Aging for these services or others under the OAA, please contact Shelley and let her know about it. If you have received notifications of cuts to services because of sequestration, please let us know.

The Senate began debate on the Farm Bill  (S. 954) which included a $4.1 billion cut to SNAP. The Gillibrand amendment, which would have restored that money, failed in the Senate. We expect the Senate to continue debating the Farm Bill and its amendments next week after Congress returns from recess. The House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill (H. R. 1947) is expected to go to the House floor in mid-June. The House version contains a $20 billion cut to SNAP. AJFCA signed on to this letter expressing our support for the SNAP, WIC, and TEFAP programs in the FY 2014 Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill.

In case you missed it, please read this announcement from the Claims Conference. They concluded their recent negotiation with Germany and agreed on a funding amount of $1billion for home care from 2014-2017. We will keep everyone informed with information as it develops.  

The Survivor Initiative, a volunteer project for young adults, raises funds and responds to survivors' urgent needs - hopefully soon with the help of new US legislation
The numbers shocked Rachel Cohen Gerrol. Nearly 200 Holocaust survivors were living at or near the poverty level in the Washington, DC, area - one of the wealthiest regions in the nation - forced to decide whether to buy food, fill a prescription or pay transportation to get to a doctor's appointment.

"I was outraged," she says. Outraged "not at the Jewish community, but because I didn't know this before." She figured other young adults would be outraged as well - and, like her, would want to help ease the burden of those survivors. Continue reading here.

Young Philanthropists Take Up Plight of US Holocaust Survivors, May 24, 2013, The Times of Israel, by Debra Rubin

Overview
In a discernible change in temperament, Congress cleared and the President signed into law a major piece of legislation, the year-end spending bill for FY2013 (HR 933), in bi-partisan fashion and without controversy. The Senate passed the measure, 73-26, and the House by 318-109.  A number of factors led to this result.  Namely, the time constraints of the spring recess period that begins next week; the need to avert a partial government shut down on March 27 when temporary funding would have expired; the fact that overall spending contained in the bill ($984 billion) is less than what was authorized ($1.043 trillion); the lack of controversial partisan provisions; and the inclusion of several exceptions offered by both parties to help agencies minimize some of the negative consequences of sequestration. Continue reading here.

Continuing Resolution Update, March 21, 2013, JFNA, by William Daroff

Seniors saved over $6 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the health care law
As the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today more than 6.3 million people with Medicare saved over $6.1 billion on prescription drugs because of the health care law. Continue reading here.

Medicare Recipients Saved Over $6 Billion on Prescription Drugs, March 21, 2013, CMS

Cuts to nutrition programs ... longer lines at Social Security offices ... some effects of the sequester are becoming clearer. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has issued state-by-state estimates ncoa logoof the cuts' impact on Older Americans Act programs, including meals and home and community-based services. And Social Security says beneficiaries can expect longer waits for help. Meanwhile, Congress is working to put the finishing touches on long-overdue FY13 funding decisions. Continue reading here.

Local Sequester Effects Becoming Clearer, March 12, 2013, National Council On Aging

The Claims Conference has published the latest issue of "Kavod: Honoring Aging Survivors - A Professional Journal for Care Providers and Families." As an expression of the Claims Conference's commitment to helping those who care for Nazi victims, it produces Kavod, an online claims conference peer-reviewed journal. Kavod is intended to help caregivers who attend to the needs of aging survivors by giving them the opportunity to read about this issue from experts in the field. Continue reading here.

In a Capitol Hill briefing on February 19, the National Human Services Assembly unveiled an overarching agenda for providing opportunities for all Americans to achieve their full potential at every stage of life, whatever their challenges and abilities.

Investing in Our Future: An Essential Agenda for America's Communities lays out for the 113th Congress a set of interconnected recommendations on how federal investments in human services can maximize outcomes for youth, seniors, families, and individuals with disabilities. Continue reading here.

NHSA Advances its First-Ever Comprehensive Human Services Policy Agenda, February 25, 2013, NHSA

If Congress does not take steps to avert the automatic spending cuts that will go into effect on March 1, domestic violence programs funded by the Violence Against Women Act would lose more than $20 million, according to a new estimate by the Department of Justice.

Sequestration would result in a $1.6 billion reduction in current DOJ funding, which would force the department to make steep cuts to vital VAWA programs across the country, according to the report, which was shared with The Huffington Post by a Democratic congressional office. Specifically, the DOJ estimates that $20 million in VAWA cuts would prevent 35,927 victims of violence in the United States from accessing lifesaving services and resources, including shelter, legal services and children's services. The cuts would also reduce funding for domestic violence training and education on a state and local level, which would prevent 34,248 fewer police, prosecutors, judges and victim advocates from receiving the training they need to effectively respond to domestic violence incidents. Continue reading here.

Sequestration Would Slash VAWA Programs By $20 Million: DOJ, February 15, 2013, Huffington Post, by Laura Bassett

On March 1, a whole bunch of deep, automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. This is known as the "sequester," a mechanism that will trim the federal government's budget by $85.3 billion this year and by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The trouble is, few people in Washington actually want these cuts. They were designed to be sweeping and crude - affecting everything except Social Security, Medicaid, a few anti-poverty programs, and the ongoing wars. Republicans don't like the fact that the Pentagon's budget gets slashed 7.3 percent this year. Democrats don't like the sweeping, across-the-board hacks to government agencies.

As such, many members of Congress would prefer to replace the sequester with something else. Here are the four of the ideas out there. Continue reading here.

There are Now Four Big Plans to Stop the Sequester, February 14, 2013, Washington Post, by Brad Plumer
 

Earlier this week, our colleague William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of Jewish Federations of North America, shared some thoughts and critical information about the looming cuts to Federal spending. These potential funding reductions will not only affect direct dollars to programs at many AJFCA member agencies, but will have a significant impact on other services many of your clients are receiving and the financial health of your communities. See William's remarks here.

On February 12th, 40 community leaders including Barbara Abrams, Special Needs Program Director at Samost Jewish Family & Children's Service of Southern New Jersey,  gathered in Washington to address public policy affecting people with disabilities. The Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism hosted the event, which included a keynote address by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Republican Conference, who shared her personal story about her son with Down syndrome. All together, participants conducted 20 Capitol Hill visits and advocated for the Community First Choice option under Medicaid, which would increase access to home and community-based services and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which would allow families to more easily save money for their children's long-term needs. AJFCA is proud to cosponsor this event for the third year in a row. Continue reading here.

In a final tally of 78 to 22, the Senate has approved the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a surprisingly controversial bill that aims to expand protections for female victims of vinational task force to end sexualolence and sexual abuse. The bill's next stop is with the Republican-led House of Representatives where supporters of VAWA are less confident that it will pass. Continue reading here.

In eight months, starting on October 1, 2013, millions of Americans will be able to sign up for quality, affordable health care. In January 2014 the health insurance coverage will begin. HHS has created new tools to educate people about the new insurance options. To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit www.HealthCare.gov and click on the orange tab. You may also want to sign up for updates on the Marketplaces on this page as well. Continue reading here.

Government affairs leaders from Jewish family service agencies and Federations across the country gathered in Washington this week to learn strategies to advocate for programs serving the vulnerable in the face of possible funding cuts due to the fiscal crisis. This year's conference, included briefings by representatives of the media, academia, Congress and the administration, including officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. Speakers discussed the impact of cuts already made to critical programs for children and the elderly, and warned of the risks posed by the prospect of sequestration, a trigger for across-the-board cuts.

Participants held 75 different meetings at individual Congressional offices, where they advocated for issues crucial to our agencies' work, including protecting the most vulnerable from the devastating effect of sequestration, reauthorization of the Older Americans Act and the inclusion of Holocaust survivors as a priority population, and the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, which would give community mental health centers better access to electronic health records.

Lee Sherman, President/CEO of AJFCA, said, "Now more than ever, Jewish family and children's service agencies and their partner Federations must build and strengthen relationships with elected officials to ensure they understand the perspectives we have as direct service providers. "

Following Hurricane Sandy, Holocaust survivors in areas of New York and New Jersey were left without homes, power, transportation, or caregivers. In addition, the local agencies and organizations on which they rely in normal times to assist them with daily living were heavily affected by the hurricane, with offices damaged or destroyed and staff unable to travel. After hearing from its partner agencies about the difficulties they were encountering in assisting Holocaust victims, the Claims Conference acted on a number of fronts to provide support. Continue reading here.

On February 4th President Obama signed the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which applies the Hague Accreditation and Approval requirements to all agencies and persons providing  "adoptions services" in cases where a child immigrates to or emigrates from the United States for purposes of adoption. Continue reading here.

In 1995, the Claims Conference and the Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service (AJFCS) started the first social services program for Holocaust survivors, bringing attention to the plight of survivors after years of silence. Now, the Claims Conference funds approximately 100 social welfare agencies, reaching about 18,000 survivors across the United States every week with home care visits. Continue reading here.

Supporting Elder Holocaust Survivors, January/February 2013, Social Work Today, by Jennifer Van Pelt

The National Assembly announced a new tool: Keeping Kids on Track in the Middle School Years: Investing in Out-of-School Time Staff and Volunteer Competencies as a Dropout Prevention Strategy. The impetus for this tool and NHSA's work in this arena is simple. The U.S. is in the midst of a dropout crisis, and key decision makers are overlooking a critical opportunity to increase graduation rates by better supporting youth during the middle school years when disconnection begins. Continue reading here.

Keeping Kids on Track...and From Dropping Out, January 22, 2013, National Assembly, by Irv Katz

The National Council for Community Behavioral HealthCare working together with the NYS Council and organizations around the country has launched a petition calling on President Obama to take concrete steps to expand public education about mental illness and improve the behavioral health system's capacity to serve people in need of care. Over 4,300 people have already signed the petition, but it needs 25,000 signatures by February 2nd in order to get an official response from the White House.Please help raise the profile of behavioral health on Capitol Hill by taking two quick steps today:

  1. Sign the petition. You can add your name to the petition at:   http://wh.gov/UmJo.
  2. Share the petition with your networks via email and social media. Find samples that you can use here: http://bit.ly/SmOz4U


Contact Lauri Cole at 518-461-8200 if you have any questions.

The Jewish Federations of North America will host a call highlighting their 2013 Health and Long-Term Care priorities and strategy. Supporting materials will be sent prior to the call. Please RSVP to Allison Redisch by COB on Friday, January 25th.  
 
2013 Health & Long-Term Care Agenda Kick-Off
Tuesday, January 29th, 4:00pm ET
Participant Dial-In Number: (877) 559-2802
Conference ID:   88544371
REGISTER HERE

With February only a few weeks away, Jewish communities across North America are once again developing programs and events in recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness Month.  AJFCA and JFNA are proud to join the Consortium of Jewish Special Educators in recognizing and increasing the awareness of the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of individuals with disabilities in our communities, as well as ensuring our communities are as inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families as possible. Continue reading here.

Administration proposes guidance for Medicaid, health insurance marketplaces
Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will be newly eligible to receive quality, affordable health care through Medicaid and the new health insurance marketplaces (also known as the Exchanges) in 2014. On January 14th Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a proposed rule that promotes consistent policies and processes for eligibility notices and appeals in Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Exchanges and give states more flexibility when operating their Medicaid programs. HHS encourages all Americans to review and submit comments on the proposed rule. Continue reading here.

Millions of Americans Newly Eligible for Quality, Affordable Health Coverage in 2014, January 14, 2013, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services are pleased to announce that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a solicitation for applications for Connecting Kids to Coverage Outreach and Enrollment Grants. These grants, funded under the Affordable Care Act, continue efforts to find and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that were initially funded under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA). Learn more about the grant opportunity here.

The ongoing conflict over the Fiscal Cliff and government spending underscores the crucial importance of effectively  communicating the core values and beneficial outcomes of human services. All too often, however, we try to make this case in our own specialized "professional" languages that fail to resonate with the general public and policy makers alike. To address this important challenge, the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) is working with stakeholders across the human services sector to help identify ways to "reframe" the way we talk about our work.

As part of the research for this project, NHSA needs to first find out how the nonprofit sector thinks about itself. Please take a few minutes of your time to take the survey.

The adoption community was hit hard last week by news that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed the Yakovlev Act, banning adoptions by families from the United States. Kathy Brodsky, director of JCCA's Ametz Adoption Program, called it a "political act."
 
Ametz Adoption Program and Jewish Child Care Association are shocked and saddened by the recent events in Russia which put the lives of so many children in jeopardy and the families prepared to adopt them in limbo. Continue reading here.

Ametz Responds to Russian Anti-U.S. Adoption Bill, January 8, 2013, Jewish Child Care Association

Now that the revenue side of the fiscal cliff has been more or less resolved, and putting aside the debt ceiling for the time being, the focus of Congress and our nation will shift to the impending budget cuts resulting from sequestration. Along with our colleagues at Jewish Federations of North America, and other partners in Washington, AJFCA will be working in the next two months to ensure that any spending decisions do not devastate our nation's safety net.

We urge you to join us in working to educate the American public and legislators about the potential effect of spending cuts on the most vulnerable among us. Much of the work we care about and represent in our network of agencies has been framed as "entitlements," which is both inaccurate and carries a negative connotation in the current environment.

We need voices to help voters and members of Congress understand that:

  • Non-defense domestic spending is more that entitlements.
  • “Entitlements” is a misnomer; this is social insurance to which taxpayers have contributed. 
  • Even entitlements are not just for the poor---they are actually about the middle class as well.
  • Entitlements are not for "other people"; they are for our parents, grandparents, members of our families and our work and social circles who are orphaned, disabled, or unable to make a livable wage.
  • "Entitlements" is also a misnomer because it tends to be used by pundits and legislators to include all kinds of non-defense domestic spending, including many programs that develop human potential (e.g., education, afterschool programs) and that give people a leg up rather than having them more financially dependent on government or creating greater costs for government in the forms of institutionalization and incarceration.

The current compromise between President Obama and Congress maintains the charitable contribution tax deduction at its current level, a policy consistent with our belief that charitable giving must be encouraged, particularly in times of economic distress. Our agencies are economic generators; we create jobs and empower many of our clients to become more self-sufficient. Yes, the nonprofit sector is protecting the vulnerable, an obligation we jointly share with the American people, but it also provides almost 10% of our nation’s jobs. The looming budget cuts would weaken our economy and the social fabric of the United States – please urge your representatives to remember this as they engage in the upcoming fiscal debate.  
 

The voice of our sector is, or should be, prevention and upstream solutions. Many will rally to the issues of gun regulation, school safety, and violence in the media. Some of us will join them. But our voice-or voices-can and must bring attention and focus to the critical importance of: Early identification and treatment; and Community connectedness. Continue reading here.

Tighter eligibility rules could save money, but aid groups fear millions would lose benefits

Although he struggled financially for years, it wasn't until Carl Hoppe was forced to leave his job as a minister and school administrator that he found it nearly impossible to feed his family, he said.

When his income declined to less than half of his old salary, he first turned to local food pantries for help filling his cabinets and stocking the refrigerator, he said. And then, Hoppe and his wife reluctantly applied for food stamps. Continue reading here.

Food Stamp Families Fear Possible 'Fiscal Cliff' Cuts, December 10, 2012, Chicago Tribune, by Lolly Bowean

The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee says she is willing to consider higher cuts to the food stamp program in an effort to include a massive five-year farm bill in negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that cuts to the food stamp program beyond the $4 billion over 10 years included in a Senate-passed farm bill "are something I am willing to talk about." A farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would include $16 billion in cuts over the same amount of time.

Both amounts are relatively small in relation to the program's total estimated cost - almost $800 billion over the next decade - but Stabenow's willingness to move on an issue long sacred to Democrats shows progress in negotiations as farm-state leaders scramble to get the bill done before the end of the year. Stabenow and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., met this week in hopes of reconciling their two versions of the bill. Continue reading here.

Senate Democrat Says She Will Consider Higher Food Stamp Program Cuts To Get Farm Bill Passed, December 5, 2012, Associated Press

House Republican leaders have already been under pressure to pass an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act in the lame-duck Congress, but now that pressure is coming from within their own party.

On Tuesday, 10 House Republicans signed a letter authored by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and other Democrats urging House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to take up and pass a VAWA bill that covers all victims of domestic violence -- much like the bill that passed the Senate -- before Congress gavels out for the year. Continue reading here.

Violence Against Women Act: John Boehner, Eric Cantor Pressured By Republicans To Act, December 11, 2012, Huffington Post, by Jennifer Bendery

AJFCA, along with other faith organizations on the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Committee, has signed a letter urging Congress to preserve Medicaid for people with disabilities. We must make sure Congress understands the importance of Medicaid to the people we serve. Proposals to block grant or cut Medicaid would have devastating effects on our constituencies as explained in the letter. Please click here to read the text of the letter. Please forward this letter to the health policy staffer in the offices of your Congressional delegation. Please email Shelley for help with this process if you need help.

The Medicaid program has government employees and contractors doing some of the exact same work, which is wasting government time and money, according to a new Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

Medicare, meanwhile, could better use data programmed into claims processing systems to stop fraud, GAO said in a separate report.

GAO made the recommendations in reports requested by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and others. The reports come as lawmakers are likely to look to both programs for potential savings in the fiscal cliff negotiations and are part of the constant effort on Capitol Hill to reduce waste in both programs.

Medicare is estimated to have made $28.8 billion in improper payments in 2011, according to GAO. Medicaid was estimated to have made $21.9 billion in bad payments - a higher percentage of its outlays than Medicare's bad payments because it is a smaller program.

The reports "lay out some specific changes to Medicare and Medicaid that can help save taxpayers millions of dollars by improving oversight to identify, and ultimately prevent, fraudulent and wasteful Medicare and Medicaid payments," Carper said. Continue reading here.

GAO Hits Medicaid on Waste, Politico, December 11, 2012, by Jennifer Haberkorn

AJFCA is supporting Senator Barbara Mikulski's letter to prioritize children and programs that impact them in the ongoing deficit reduction debates in Washington. This letter will be circulated to all the Senate offices for support, so please reach out to your Senators to request that they sign on to the letter. If you need assistance with this process please contact Shelley.

As the President and Congressional leaders discuss long-term budget solutions to avoid a short-term fiscal cliff, advocates for older adults are concerned about proposals that could negatively impact seniors now and into the future.   
 
Deep cuts in funding for senior services, health care, affordable housing, and other vital domestic programs have been proposed. Other efforts would cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in ways that would unravel the safety net for millions of vulnerable Americans - young and old, even though Social Security has not contributed to the current budget problems.
 
JFS and providers across the country believe that a responsible solution to current fiscal challenges should not threaten the economic security and health of elders and their families. Any budget agreement must protect those older adults (and ALL Americans) in greatest need, both socially and economically, by fairly balancing budget resources against sacrifices, protecting low-income Americans and, ultimately, taking no actions that increase economic vulnerability, hunger, or poverty.

Please take a minute to tell Congress why Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and more must be protected for millions of older Americans in need and taken out of the budget negotiations now happening in Washington. See what's at stake.

Please call your members of Congress, or the Capitol Switchboard at 888-876-6242 (Thanks to Families USA for the toll-free line). Ask to be connected to your representative's office, and tell the person who answers the phone:

"Hi. My name is _____ and I live in _____.  I'm concerned about proposed budget cuts that will hurt seniors.  I want Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff with a balanced approach that doesn't increase poverty or income inequality.  Please do not cut Medicare or Medicaid benefits, or shift costs onto beneficiaries, and lastly, protect Older Americans Act funded domestic discretionary programs, especially senior meals."  
 
Thanks for joining the call to action! Feel free to forward this and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to call. Afterward, please take a minute to tell us that you made the call so we can track our efforts. 

We at AJFCA are disappointed that, on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a United Nations international human rights treaty designed "to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity." The treaty, modeled, in part, on the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been ratified by 126 countries (including Canada and Israel), and signed but not ratified by 155 countries, including the U.S. The Senate voted 61-38 in favor of the treaty, falling 6 votes short of the number needed for ratification. AJFCA, and many of you, had advocated for CRPD's ratification and we will continue to pursue that goal.

If you are concerned about insurance coverage, disability, and general financial issues associated with your cancer treatment and recovery, contact Link Program Coordinator Adina Fleischmann for information on Sharsheret's new financial health program. This program will help you take control of your financial well-being during and after a health crisis. Watch a live recording of Sharsheret's recent roundtable discussion, "Taking Control Of Your Financial Health During And After A Heath Crisis," for tips from experts in the field on insurance coverage, social security and disability rights, and financial planning.

AJFCA member agencies are continuing to provide needed services in communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. In support, JFNA's Emergency Committee, of which Lee Sherman is a member, has allocated over $610,000. Jewish federations around the country have raised close to $5 million, including over $3.3 million by UJA-Federation of New York. Continue reading updates from Jewish Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD) here.

Registration for the 2013 Government Affairs Institute and AJFCA Advocacy Mission (GAI) is now OPEN!

Based on the successful 2011 AJFCA Advocacy Mission held in partnership with the Government Affairs Institute, we plan to repeat and improve upon this expanded format.  We have revised the program and content based on your feedback, and this program will offer topics that are timely and relevant to your work.  Capitol Hill visits will be planned in advance.  Additionally, we are aiming for a White House component, which would be new for the GAI.  We strongly encourage you to attend.

The GAI will be held from Tuesday, February 5 – Thursday, February 7, 2013, in Washington, DC and you can register through this link:  www.wynjade.com/jewishfederations13/GAI.

The GAI is our premier gathering of professionals and lay leaders who are interested in public policy.  The GAI brings together professionals and volunteers from Jewish family and children's service agencies and Federations to advocate on policies that impact the vulnerable populations that you serve. Throughout the GAI you will hear from distinguished leaders from the Administration and Congress and you will have the opportunity to meet individually with your community's Congressional representatives.  

GAI activities will officially begin at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 5th.  We strongly encourage new participants to attend the GAI and learn from seasoned colleagues from around the country.  To help our newer participants, we are considering hosting an optional Advocacy 101 training session that would begin at 11:00 a.m. on February 5th.  This session would discuss the priority advocacy issues, and provide guidance on advocacy in general, including building relationships with public officials.  Please contact us if you would be interested in attending this pre-GAI session.  The GAI will end at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 7th.

Each person attending is required to register for the conference and for hotel accommodations (if needed) through the following link:  www.wynjade.com/jewishfederations13/GAI.  The registration fee of $250 (includes meals) will be charged to your credit card upon completion of the registration and credit card information is also required for hotel reservations as all hotel reservations must be booked online through this registration site. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Embassy Suites DC Convention Center for a discounted rate of $229 per night (includes breakfast).  

PLEASE NOTE:  Registering early will enable more effective scheduling of your visits to Capitol Hill and the Administration.  We strongly encourage you to register as soon as possible.   To secure your spot now, register at www.wynjade.com/jewishfederations13/GAI.  

If you have any questions about content please contact Shelley Rood.

We look forward to welcoming you at the 2013 GAI!

Thank you,

Shelley Rood
Washington Director, AJFCA

The government of Germany committed through an agreement signed with the Claims Conference, to continue compensation payments to eligible Holocaust survivors and providing funding for homecare for elderly victims.
 
At the November 15th ceremony in Berlin, German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble hosted a ceremony at which an agreement was signed that will continue to govern the Claims Conference's compensation programs and the provision of homecare funding by the German government. Continue reading here.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, over 130 representatives of the national Jewish community met in Baltimore for the conference, Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative. AJFCA CEO Lee Sherman and representatives of nine AJFCA member agencies participated in the conference sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, the Jewish Funders Network, and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes. Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, Chair of the National Governors Association, delivered the keynote address and introduced his initiative for increasing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Linda Burger, CEO of Houston JFS and AJFCA Board Member, and Mari Forbush, COO of JF&CS of Minneapolis, participated in a panel discussion on how we ensure people with disabilities and their families are treated with respect and dignity and are able to participate in our communities in meaningful ways.

A tremendous amount of energy was generated during the conference and critical resources and ideas were exchanged. AJFCA committed to helping to facilitate this growing national conversation on disabilities in our communities, so look for more updates in the coming months.

JFNA has distributed close to $650,000 to Federations in the form of grants for immediate humanitarian assistance, filtered primarily through the Jewish Family Service network. Of those funds, 90% have been distributed to those in need. Additional updates on the situation following Superstorm Sandy are available here.

The Robin Hood Foundation is funding an innovative pilot using technology to reduce program costs for assisting low-income families to access food stamps (SNAP) and invites your agency to participate in their pilot program.

The National Human Service Assembly (NHSA) became aware of this opportunity though their Bridging the Gap work, an initiative aimed at ensuring that frontline human service employees know about and have ready access to earned benefits. This Robin Hood Foundation pilot program offers the opportunity for your agency to quickly and efficiently screen employees for SNAP at no cost and with minimal human resources effort. Find detailed information about the pilot program here.

If your organization would like to participate in the pilot or learn more, please reach out to Michelle Henry.

Many AJFCA member agencies continue to be effected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  Some office locations are still closed, although all of our agencies have been able to function at a high level by using remote locations and satellite offices. Caring for critical client needs has become the major work of these agencies and they are to be congratulated for their efforts in ensuring the safety and well-being of their clients, many of whom are elderly or disabled. AJFCA has worked with the Emergency Committee of JFNA to provide relief funding for immediate needs to our member communities in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Food, clothing, housing assistance, and direct financial aid have been provided by our Jewish family services with the help of these funds. In the article below, you will read how the Claims Conference has granted additional funding for the support of Holocaust survivors in the affected areas. The needs are continuing and long-term and AJFCA will continue to work with its national partners to assist our agencies that are on the front lines of this life-saving work.

For an update on some of the relief efforts, read this report from Jewish Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD), of which AJFCA is a participating member.

Additionally, please find frequently asked questions regarding open enrollment issues related to Hurricane Sandy here.

The appalling devastation and misery wrought by Hurricane Sandy has left a deep imprint in the region that is home to half of the Holocaust survivors in the United States. Holocaust survivors in New York City, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, live in some areas which were hardest hit claims conferenceby the storm. Many have witnessed their homes being destroyed or damaged by the punishing winds and flooding and have been evacuated to shelters. Countless other survivors may be or may have been without power, heat and water which, in some neighborhoods, has still not been restored. This has resulted in a particularly dire situation, as elderly, vulnerable survivors often live alone. Continue reading here.

Claims Conference Reaches Out to Holocaust Survivors in Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:  Emergency Fund Established, November 2, 2012, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, by Amy Wexler

As you all are aware, Hurricane Sandy, a storm of unprecedented magnitude, struck the Eastern portion of the United States earlier this week. Seeing the response of communities across the region to the devastating storm, we are awed by the strength of the American people. Our member agencies worked with their clients before, during, and after the storm to ensure their safety and well-being. Even at this point, we do not know the extent of the damage, but as mental health providers, we know that the effects of Hurricane Sandy will continue well beyond the immediate cleanup. We have been working with a number of national agencies to coordinate relief efforts, and AJFCA member agencies have been noted for their amazing efforts in their local communities.
 
The Jewish Federations of North America has opened the JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund to contribute to recovery and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. AJFCA urges the Jewish community to contribute using the online donation form. Donors may also send checks to JFNA at: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Please indicate "JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund" on all checks or in the designation box online. AJFCA sends our support and prayers to those affected by the hurricane, and we will stand beside them during the recovery and rebuilding.

As they struggle to save for retirement, a growing number of middle-class Americans plan to postpone their golden years until they are in their 80's. Nearly one-third, or 30%, now plan to work until they are 80 or older -- up from 25% a year ago, according to a Wells Fargo survey of 1,000 adults with income less than $100,000.

AJFCA Members:  Are you noticing that mature worker/senior employment is an issue cropping up in your community? How are you responding? Are there specific resources that you are utilizing? We are doing a quick community scan to see how pressing the issue is, level of interest and how active the system is in engaging and fostering mature worker and senior employment. Once we hear back, we will be in touch to learn more completely what programs or tools you are using or creating. Please send a quick short description (2-3 sentences or a paragraph) to Shelley Rood.

More Americans Delaying Retirement Until Their 80s, October 23, 2012, CNNMoney, by Blake Ellis

Presidential elections will take place in two weeks. We do not know who will triumph as polls have tightened.

  • In the Presidential race, the final margin will be close. As has been known for months, the final decision will be based on the swing states with this year's nominees really focused on nine battlegrounds:  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Certainly, in many of these states, significant Jewish populations could have an impact.
  • In the House, Republicans are likely to retain control, although by a narrower margin than their current 50 seat majority. 
  • The Senate is up for grabs. The Democrats, currently hold 53 seats (including two independents who vote with them) but 23 of these seats are up this year, compared to 10 for the Republicans. Many of these states remain competitive. We don't know who will win a majority (and as you know with the Senate filibuster rules a majority in the Senate does not translate into total control), but the most likely outcome now is that whichever party wins the Presidential contest will also win control of the Senate by a narrow margin.

As you understand, which party controls the Presidency and the two chambers of Congress has consequences for AJFCA's public policy priorities for next year and beyond.

Following the elections, Congress will convene for a "lame duck" session as Members of the current Congress return for a few days or weeks to attempt to resolve some of the many issues that were left unresolved. Several crucial economic happenings take place on January 1, 2013. These include:

  • the automatic invocation of sequestrations to make cuts in significant chunks of discretionary spending in both the defense and non-defense arenas (a legacy of the Budget Control Act of 2011 which is supposed to cut $109 billion in 2013)
  • expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts
  • the extension of the reach of the Alternative Minimum Tax which would apply to significantly lower amounts of income 
  • lower rates in Medicare payments to physicians 
  • increases in the payroll tax and
  • the elimination of extensions to unemployment benefits.  

All of these issues must be addressed by Congress or our economy could go over a "fiscal cliff." Six weeks later in mid-February, the U.S. national debt ceiling limit will be reached, and you may recall that the last time Congress handled this matter, the U.S. bond rating was downgraded.  In addition, Congress must complete its work on the FY 2013 Appropriations process after only extending the bills for six months through March, 2013. It seems unlikely that Congress will be able to address these issues during a lame duck session although forward movement could take place if this becomes a "status quo" election with the current party in control of the Presidency, the Senate, and the House retaining that control.

We are engaging in scenario planning to figure out how our goals will be impacted by the victors come January as they maneuver around different components of the debt and deficit crisis. As the elections approach, please continue to be mindful of electoral activity on the part of your federation (and you may wish to consult our annual memo on Election Year Advocacy). Also, this list of questions may be of use to you in community-sponsored candidate forums.

We look forward to communicating with you after the results return on Election Day. If you would like to discuss these issues further please contact Shelley.

We are writing today with an important request. Can you take a few minutes of your time to complete Jewish Women International's annual survey of Jewish domestic violence organizations?

Each year, the results of this survey play a key role in guiding our work as we develop new resources to address domestic violence in our community. We also use this crucial information as we work closely with Members of Congress, their staffs, and other national organizations to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and funding for VAWA programs.

We would greatly appreciate if you could complete this short survey by Friday, November 2nd so we can better understand and advocate for programs that serve the Jewish community.

In these difficult financial times, when the demand for lifesaving services increases, it is more important than ever that we urge our lawmakers to allocate funding to VAWA programs and educate Members of Congress about the needs of Jewish domestic violence programs. Last year's survey results were distributed widely within our community and used in meetings with Congressional staffers, the Administration, and key federal agency contacts. This year's survey will allow us to continue to advocate for vital funding for domestic violence and stay connected with each other's work.   

Please forward this survey to your colleagues in other domestic violence agencies that serve the Jewish community. Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KNC9ZPY.

Thank you for your time and commitment. If you have questions or concerns about this survey or our advocacy work, please contact Miri Cypers, JWI's Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist.

The North American Jewish event is right around the corner. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is creating a special message for the GA community, which will be featured at the conference. Stay tuned for breaking news and updates. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to register as well, so that your entire community can benefit from all the GA has to offer. Lee Sherman, AJFCA CEO/President, Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director, and Jennie Gates Beckman, AJFCA Manager of Civic Engagement & Repair the World Programming will be on site. Email Sandy to let AJFCA know if you're coming.

  • Review the program schedule to begin to chose which sessions and receptions you'll be attending. 
  • Discover the top 11 things to do in Baltimore other than the GA.
  • Continue checking www.GeneralAssembly.org daily for program and speaker updates like the Jewish Book Council Author Series which will feature Ruth Andrew Ellenson, Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Professor Jonathan Sarna, among others.
  • Tweet about the #JFNAGA via Twitter.
  • Look for the GA app, which will be available October 25th in the iTunes Store.
  • Make sure to read the GA Daily, once you're on site as it is filled with important information about room changes, new opportunities and fun facts. Remember to visit the JFNA booth, and attend workshops and the Baltimore Community Event!

Nearly 5.4 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved more than $4.1 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced. Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "donut hole" have saved an average of $768. During the first seven months of 2012, the new health care law has helped nearly 18 million people with original Medicare get at least one preventive service at no cost to them.

The health care law includes benefits to make Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable. In 2010, anyone with Medicare who hit the prescription drug donut hole received a $250 rebate. In 2011, people with Medicare who hit the donut hole began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a discount on generic drugs. These discounts and Medicare coverage gradually increase until 2020 when the donut hole is fully closed.

For state-by-state information on savings in the donut hole, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/donut-hole-data-chart.pdf. For state-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/preventive-data-chart-first-seven-months-2012.pdf.

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jewish Women International (JWI) is calling attention to the lack of corporate funding for domestic violence programs and services. Did you know that 1 in 4 women in the United States experiences domestic violence in her lifetime? Yet less than 1% of corporate philanthropies include domestic violence in their giving guidelines or list domestic abuse as an area of interest. As women and as consumers - we need to stand up and demand change.
 
With their economic clout, corporations are ideally positioned to fund life-saving domestic violence services, underwrite public awareness and prevention campaigns, and create in-house policies for their own employees who are experiencing abuse. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it's time for companies to finally make domestic violence a philanthropic priority - and for women, a powerful and growing economic force, to accept nothing less.
 
Click here to learn ten ways you can help boost corporate giving for domestic violence.

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?"

NDEAM's roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

Although led by ODEP, NDEAM's true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers, schools and organizations of all sizes and in all communities are encouraged to participate in NDEAM, and ODEP offers several resources to help them do so. Activities range from simple, such as putting up a poster, to comprehensive, such as implementing a disability education program. Regardless, all play an important part in fostering a more inclusive America, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities - every day of every month.

To get NDEAM resources or learn more about how your organization can participate, please visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/.

Application Period Open for Funding to Increase Local Resiliency through Whole Community Approach
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that the application period is open for a new funding opportunity to build local resilience, through a Whole Community approach, in communities across America: the Community Resilience Innovation Challenge.

Though National Preparedness Month comes to a close at the end of September, FEMA and its partners know that preparedness must continue in communities year-round. This new monetary opportunity is designed to continue to move community preparedness forward and assist local areas in building and revitalizing community-based partnerships to advance the nation's resilience to disasters.

The opportunity is provided through the Rockefeller Foundation and FEMA and will be administered by the Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation who will act as a third-party intermediary to encourage local communities to engage in creative activities that enhance disaster resilience. Funding levels will range, with a maximum award of $35,000, and applications are open to most local, state, and tribal agencies and governments; business entities; associations; organizations and groups. Submissions will be accepted through October 26th.

Key assessment areas for the awards will be the applicants' demonstration that their approach to community resilience is innovative, collaborative with community stakeholders, sustainable, repeatable-in that the approach enables other communities to replicate their successful outcomes-and  beneficial to the community in measurable ways.

Additional information on the Challenge program criteria and application process can be found at www.fema.gov and www.ResilienceChallenge.org.

A new campaign from the American Physical Therapy Association is educating baby boomers about the importance of being healthy. Fit After 50 provides daily tips, symptoms and conditions guides, videos, and a social media contest throughout October.

At 78 million strong, Baby Boomers are one of the largest and most powerful generations in the U.S. They have redefined aging and are more educated, wealthy, and tech savvy than their parents or any generation preceding them. Yet, despite these advantages, some studies, including a Harvard study titled "Trends in Obesity and Arthritis Among Baby Boomers and Their Predecessors," show that many Boomers are actually overweight or obese, placing them at greater risk for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

As we age, we often lose flexibility, strength, and balance, which makes staying fit after 50 challenging, even for the most determined Baby Boomers. Working with a  physical therapist, can help you address these challenges, maintain fitness, and avoid injury. While helping you achieve your fitness goals, physical therapists take an individual approach and consider any pre-existing conditions or diseases that you may have to tailor a plan that is specific to your unique needs.

The following Fit After 50 resources are provided to help you better understand the ways a physical therapist can help you improve mobility and motion to stay fit at 50 and beyond, in many cases without expensive surgery or the long-term use of prescription medications.

New Campaign Urges Boomers to Stay Fit After 50, October 2, 2012, National Council on Aging

The National Human Services Assembly projects that Sequestration, should it come to pass, would cut a minimum of $39 billion from human development programs across the federal government. NHSA secured this information from an OMB report on the impact of sequestration, the Children's Budget and other sources (sources noted on page five of the attached).

"We know that cuts will happen across the government, with or without sequestration," stated Irv Katz, President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, "but the "human development budget" affects the livelihoods and well-being of tens of millions of people.   Cuts of this magnitude would undoubtedly increase unemployment appreciably and increase demand for 'entitlements.'  As a sector, we need to remind the public and public officials of this fact:  human development programs-most of them at least-help people to be in situations that where they can care for themselves and their families, gain employment and become tax-payers and consumers.  And social problems left unaddressed, whether child abuse or poor and frail elders living in isolation, result in much greater social and economic costs than the prevention and intervention programs provided for by government and the charitable sector."
 

On Thursday, September 20th, AJFCA and the Claims Conference co-hosted an informational session and discussion at the offices of the Claims Conference in New York City. AJFCA and Claims Conference staff were joined by representatives of eight AJFCA member agencies in New York, and another 27 agencies participated by conference call. After Lee Sherman welcomed the participants, framed the issues for discussion, and thanked everyone for the critical work being done in support of Holocaust Survivors in North America, Greg Schneider, Executive Vice Presidclaims conference logoent of the Claims Conference, provided updates on key changes to eligibility definitions and relations with the German Government. Greg also reported on the current state of funding, reporting requirements, and the launching of a new database. AJFCA member agency representatives, Reuben Rotman of JFS MetroWest, NJ, Sheri Sax of JFSA Cleveland, OH, and Jenni Frumer of Alpert JF&CS, West Palm Beach, FL, presented information in the areas of communications, service issues, and funding unmet needs. Greg Schneider provided answers to many of the specific issues that were raised, and to some questions that were subsequently raised by agencies on the conference call.
 
All of those present at the meeting were appreciative of the opportunity to exchange information. We all understand our obligation to provide for the needs of the victims of Nazi persecution, and AJFCA, the Claims Conference, and our member agencies are all committed to ensuring that those needs are met.   

To listen to a recording of this meeting click here.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, the Jewish Funders Network, and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes are pleased to announce the creation of a conference dedicated to a discussion of how to build Jewish communities that are more inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative
Tuesday, November 13th, 6:45pm-10:00pm
Wednesday, November 14th, 7:45am-3:00pm
Baltimore, Maryland


Featuring Keynote Address by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware Chair, National Governors Association sharing his vision for improving employment outcomes for the disability community as well as sessions focusing on

  • the difficult concepts and questions communities must address in order to develop a culture of inclusion
  • how to develop the tools that allow a community to make an immediate impact on inclusion for individuals with disabilities, their loved ones and caregivers
  • the issue of inclusion from the perspective of funders
  • a look at innovative best practices addressing individual issues within the broader context of inclusion

This conference will feature leaders with experience in helping communities to promote a culture of inclusion and will provide an opportunity for federation professionals, family service agency professionals, educators, planners and lay leaders to develop the tools necessary to begin the effort to accomplish this important goal.  
 
Please join JFNA as they gather to discuss how we can work together to achieve the goal of building accessible, accepting, accommodating and welcoming Jewish communities for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Registration for the Disability Inclusion Initiative
Click here if you plan to attend the 2012 General Assembly and the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $82
Click here if you only plan to attend the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $118

For more information about this conference, click here or contact David Feinman with JFNA.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced partnerships with several pharmacies to help customers learn about new Medicare benefits available to them under the Affordable Care Act - the health care law.  These partnerships - with CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Thrifty White, Walmart, and Sam's Club - will provide Medicare beneficiaries a range of educational materials on newly available preventive services, as well as savings on prescription drug spending in the "donut hole" coverage gap.

Some examples of how pharmacy partners are working to increase awareness of preventive services available under Medicare include the following:

  • CVS Caremark is distributing material about new preventive services covered at no cost to beneficiaries at its more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores and 600 MinuteClinic locations, through brochures, register receipt messages and online.
  • Thrifty White Pharmacy is providing information on preventive services through its 85 locations throughout the Midwest.
  • Walgreens is distributing information in nearly 8,000 pharmacies and over 350 Take Care Clinic locations, as well as using in-store announcements and providing this information as part of its Walgreens Way to Well Health Tour with AARP.
  • HHS is working with Walmart and Sam's Club to provide healthcare information to their shoppers online.  

Other pharmacies or partners can find information on how to work with CMS to educate consumers about the benefits available to them at: http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/Current-Partnership-Opportunities/index.html.

September 22nd is the first day of Fall, and it's also a day when passionate people across the country will stand together to observe the 5th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. This year's theme, Standing Together to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awarenencoa logoss and preventing falls in the older adult population.

Forty-six states will participate in Falls Prevention Awareness Day this year, joining over 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies that comprise the Falls Free Initiative to raise awareness through educational presentations, risk-screening activities, and other outreach strategies. They are standing together to bring attention to common-sense, effective strategies to help older adults reduce the risk of falling, such as:

  • Engaging in a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility.
  • Consulting with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment.
  • Having their medications reviewed periodically.
  • Getting their eyes checked annually.
  • Making sure the home and community environments are safe and supportive.  

Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over. Moreover, the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.
 
Read more about National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and the Falls Free Initiative here.

46 States Celebrate 5th Annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, August 23, 2012, NCOA

AJFCA co-sponsored a briefing for Congressional staff on September 12th to highlight the Social Services Block Grant and its importance to our communities. According to an analysis of Health and Human Services data, in 2009, 27% of SSBG was for vulnerable and elderly adults, 24% for child welfare and youth at risk, 14 % for disability services, 13% for counseling and support services, 16% for child care and over 10% for other human services.

On Thursday, May 10, the House of Representatives adopted a reconciliation bill (H RES 648) that would completely eliminate the $1.7 billion SSBG. If the effort to eliminate SSBG is successful it would wipe out $1.7 billion in annual funding to states that is used on a range of human services programs. While the Senate has not acted on the bill, the proposed elimination, if it does not result in a strong reaction, will come back after the election when members will be seeking ways to address the current budget gridlock. AJFCA is working to protect SSBG funding by making members of Congress aware of its importance to our community.  If you have examples of how you use SSBG funds, please email them to Shelley Rood.
 

A redesign of the Medicare.gov website is now complete, making content more accessible and easier for beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to understand. The new design responds to mobile devices, like tablets andhhs logo smartphones. Users can get information such as coverage and cost details, anytime, anywhere, and in the most convenient format. Medicare beneficiaries, counselors, and caregivers can check if a letter they received in the mail is an official communication from Medicare by viewing descriptions of Medicare mailings. The popular "Medicare & You" handbook now has its own landing page for an easy access complement to the annual print mailing.
 
The new site will allow most users to find the content they're looking for directly from the home page.  These features include:

  • A search for whether a specific test, item, or service is covered under original Medicare;
  • The ability to get customized information based on a beneficiary's specific situation;
  • Quick links to replace a lost Medicare card, find a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, and get help with health care costs.

To see examples of these new features, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/Medicare-gov-LB.pdf.
To view and start using the new tools and additional information, users are invited to visit www.Medicare.gov.

For many vulnerable older adults, the path to economic security begins with basic money management. Learning how to budget, avoid scams, and apply for benefits can help them stay secure and independent. The Savvy Saving Seniors toolkits -developed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) with support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation -- provide everything needed to conduct free financial education workshops for older adults. The toolkits include presentations, handouts, marketing materials, and more. Anyone interested can download the toolkits for free or order a printed copy for a small fee. Order the toolkits here.

Partner with Sharsheret during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and raise awareness in your Jewish community!  Here are three easy ways you can join the fight against ovarian cancer and breast cancer and help educate your community about the increased risk for cancer in Jewish families and Sharsheret's free national programs and services:

  • Host a Teal Shabbat or Pink Shabbat
  • Coordinate The maniCURE for Sharsheret 
  • Plan a fun exercise or athletic event  sharsheret

These events are easy to plan and a great way for your organization to engage community members. For more information and to get started, e-mail Director of Community Engagement Rebecca Schwartz.

Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service in West Palm Beach and Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children in New York City have launched a new study for children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.  Dr. Yalel Danieli, co-Founder and Director of the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children in New York City, has devealpert jfcsloped a new comprehensive questionnaire that can help to better understand how families have been affected by the Holocaust. Children and grandchildren of survivors who are at least 18-years old are invited to participate in this important study by completing the questionnaire.
 
Click here for more information and to participate in this ground breaking study. Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service in West Palm Beach supports this study and has received funds through the Claims Conference and the Anti-Defamation League, as the fiscal agent for this important research.

It's August - and that means campaign season is in full swing. Every district in the House is up for re-election (or up for grabs) and a third of the Senate is also on the ballot. Now is a great time to be voicing issues of importance in town halls and district meetings. We encourage you to speak about your programs in your community. If you'd like ideas of issues you could raise, please refer to this list.

Urge your senator and representative to cosponsor the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (HR. 6043 and S. 539). The implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Health Information Technology (HIT) is an essential technological advancement with benefits for both patients and providers. While the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITCECH) Act provided reimbursements for primary health providers who implemented HIT through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, it did not include funding for behavioral health providers such as your agencies. This legislation seeks to enable organizations such as Jewish family services to apply for these funds. The populations targeted in this legislation are among the most vulnerable with exceedingly high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and asthma, in addition to their behavioral health issues. Read more here. Click here to view template letter.

Urge your senator and representative to cosponsor the Responding to Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust Act (S. 3358 and H.R. 2786). The RUSH Act amends the Older Americans Act to include a focus on Holocaust survivor social service needs and on the costs associated with providing kosher or other specialized meals to older adults.  We encourage members of Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act and include the RUSH Act as an integral part. Although Holocaust survivors face the same daily challenges as other aging adults, they may be more acutely impacted by premature or unnecessary institutionalization, because for survivors in particular the loss of privacy, control and autonomy, along with certain triggers, increases the likelihood of re-traumatization. Read more here. Click here to view AJFCA's letter of endorsement.

We are collecting information about programs that serve specific populations of baby boomers or seniors. If you have programs geared toward any of the following categories, please send Shelley a 2-3 sentence email about it. Shelley will follow up if she needs more information. The categories are mental illness, disabilities, chronic conditions, care giving boomers, low-income, isolated, or LGBT boomers.

We are excited to announce plans for the next Government Affairs Institute (GAI). As many of you know, the Jewish high holy days, House and Senate session schedule, and the political party conventions leave no available date for our GAI in the Fall of 2012. Therefore, we will host the GAI on February 5-7, 2013.  

This new time period will maximize our impact on the policy scene. The 113th Congress will have just been sworn-in, and the Presidential Inauguration will have just taken place. Hosting our Institute in February will provide an opportunity to introduce ourselves to new members of the House and Senate, and potentially a new presidential administration. It will also occur at a time when members are operating on a fresh slate and all issues can be given a fair hearing without the influence of political elections on the horizon. We have booked a great rate for you to stay at the Embassy Suites DC Convention Center. More information about agenda, registration and hotel will follow, but for now we ask you to please SAVE the DATE, February 5-7, 2013.

Ottawa, August 23, 2012 — Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement today to mark Black Ribbon Day, the national day of remembrance for the victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe:

“Today, we take the time to offer our sympathy and support to those who have been victims of Communism and Nazi totalitarianism, and to remember those persecuted who are no longer with us.

“Canada has long been a beacon of hope for those looking to flee the heavy hand of dictatorships and oppressive regimes.

“The marking of Black Ribbon Day in Canada shows that our country condemns crimes against humanity, and that we will forever and always be a stalwart champion for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=3&featureId=6&pageId=49&id=4976

On Wednesday, July 25th AJFCA signed on to a letter to House and Senate leadership in support of VAWA. On Monday, July 30th at 2:00pm, the White House will host a call for the interfaith community on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Jewish Women International is graciously coordinating this call for AJFCA.  If you are available please join the call. Kindly contact Shelley Rood with questions. Thank you for your support.

Conference Call with White House Office on Violence Against Women
Monday, July 30th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE

The Claims Conference board approved $272 million in new allocations for the next two fiscal years.

The bulk of the spending approved at Wednesday's meeting in Washington will go to programs that aid survivors, including home care, soup kitchens, meals on wheels and medical assistance programs. Slightly less than $36 million will go to support Holocaust education.

The funding comes from the Claims Conference's so-called Successor Organization, which derives from the sale of Jewish-owned properties in the former East Germany for which no heirs have come forward.

Also Wednesday, the Claims Conference voted to create a Goodwill Fund of approximately $61 million for heirs of former East German properties who missed previous deadlines for making claims on the properties.

This discretionary spending by the Claims Conference is in addition to the funding Germany provides to survivors via the Claims Conference in the form of pension programs, one-time payouts and home care.

On Monday, the Claims Conference announced that Germany had agreed to increase its funding to survivors by about $300 million, covering some 80,000 Nazi victims who until now have not been eligible for German funding.

Claims Conference Approves $272 Million in New Allocations, Creates Goodwill Fund, July 11, 2012, JTA

The Claims Conference board approved $272 million in new allocations for the next two fiscal years.

The bulk of the spending approved at Wednesday's meeting in Washington will go to programs that aid survivors, including home care, soup kitchens, meals on wheels and medical assistance programs. Slightly less than $36 million will go to support Holocaust education.

The funding comes from the Claims Conference's so-called Successor Organization, which derives from the sale of Jewish-owned properties in the former East Germany for which no heirs have come forward.

Also Wednesday, the Claims Conference voted to create a Goodwill Fund of approximately $61 million for heirs of former East German properties who missed previous deadlines for making claims on the properties.

This discretionary spending by the Claims Conference is in addition to the funding Germany provides to survivors via the Claims Conference in the form of pension programs, one-time payouts and home care.

On Monday, the Claims Conference announced that Germany had agreed to increase its funding to survivors by about $300 million, covering some 80,000 Nazi victims who until now have not been eligible for German funding.

Claims Conference Approves $272 Million in New Allocations, Creates Goodwill Fund, July 11, 2012, JTA

As a leader and advocate in the Jewish domestic violence movement, Jewish Women International knows that you are well aware of the important role that clergy can play in supporting women and children experiencing domestic violence. Indeed, you have likely already trained rabbis and cantors in your community on the dynamics of domestic abuse, and the ways they can be a support and a source of healing. JWI is inviting you to nominate a rabbi or cantor from your community to serve for a two-year term on JWI's Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community.

This Task Force is a multi-denominational group of Jewish clergy committed to ending the cycle of abuse by speaking out publicly about the issue, developing and disseminating resources and training, and providing guidance to colleagues working with families experiencing abuse. Over this past year the Task Force developed two text-based guides about healthy relationships, a 'mi-sheberakh' for families experiencing abuse, held two trainings, and engaged in advocacy. To learn more about the work of the task force please visit http://www.jwi.org/clergy.

The Task Force is chaired by Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and Rabbi Marla Hornsten, Temple Israel, West Bloomfield, Michigan. It is currently composed of 16 members and with plans to expand to a group of 25 members. There is particular interest in adding rabbis and cantors who are leaders in their communities and who work in diverse settings such as college campuses, chaplaincies, summer camps, youth groups and nonprofits. The Task Force meets by teleconference, with plans for an in-person meeting in 2013.

Nominations should include the name of the rabbi or cantor, denomination or affiliation, contact information, and a brief description of why you are nominating this candidate. JWI looks forward to receiving your nomination so that they can move forward with this exciting effort. Please email nominations to Deborah Rosenbloom and contact her with any questions.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced a hearing would be held on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, July 12th. AJFCA has advocated for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold this hearing, and we have signed multiple letters of support. AJFCA will continue to advocate for ratification of the CRPD in the Senate. For additional information, please view the letter AJFCA signed with the Jewish Disabilities Network.

"Behavioral Health" is the term used to describe mental health and/or substance abuse treatment. Many of our AJFCA members provide these vital services. The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (H.R. 6403) has been introduced in the House. Much like its counterpart in the Senate (S.539), this bill will add community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, residential and outpatient mental health treatment facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities to the list of organizations eligible for federal incentive payments. Currently, you can receive incentive payments for the adoption of health information technology if you have a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner on staff. Both bills would extend incentive payments for electronic health records to certain types of behavioral health organizations that are not currently eligible.

Health information technology is a critical component to providing high-quality, coordinated care. Extended payments to behavioral health agencies will help to support the adoption, implementation, and upgrading of IT systems. For more information, click here and please view this article from the Wall Street Journal.

We are pleased to announce that the Senate has introduced a bill to help increase access to services for Holocaust survivors. For the past two years, AJFCA has been working with members of the Senate to develop legislation addressing Holocaust survivor needs in the Older Americans Act. Last Thursday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and original cosponsor Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), introduced this legislation. The Responding to Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust (RUSH) Act (S. 3358) would provide support for the tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors living near poverty in the U.S. who need services to age in place. The legislation builds on the goals outlined in a Congressional resolution (H. Con. Res. 323) that passed in the House of Representatives in 2010, and it complements legislation already introduced in the House (H.R. 2786). The full text of the bill should be available on THOMAS in the coming days. Please view the JTA article, and contact your Senators to cosponsor using this Action Alert.

On Thursday the U.S. Supreme court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. The vote was 5-4, and Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority. The Court upheld the provision of the law that requires all American citizens to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty. However, the court struck a provision that forced states to expand their Medicaid programs. States that do not expand Medicaid will not lose their previous funding. For details, check out SCOTUSBLOG, the very popular blog following the Supreme Court.
 
In related news, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 12.8 million Americans will benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from insurance companies this summer, because of the Affordable Care Act's 80/20 rule.  These rebates will be an average of $151 for each family covered by a policy. Please read the HHS announcement for more details.

On April 16, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a tripartite merger of the Administration on Aging, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Office on Disability. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphasized that reorganizing the three entities into one single structure will allow for consistent and coordinated federal policy while maintaining key programmatic services specific to the needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities. ACL's creation and mission is part of the Obama Administration's larger Community Living Initiative "to ensure the fullest inclusion of all people in the life of our nation." Please read more detailed information about AJFCA's meeting with ACL.

Samost Jewish Family & Children's Service of Southern NJ joined Jewish Federation leaders from across the nation to meet members of Congress to discuss pressing issues on our health and long-term care agenda. The meetings, which included 35 Federation leaders, were part of The Jewish Federations of North America's Health and Long-Term Care Summit.

Health and Long-Term Care Summit participants gathered in the Capitol with leading Senators and Representatives. Keynote speaker, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), emphasized the vital role that Medicaid plays in our nation today, and the essentiality of our work in this policy area. Senator Cardin also addressed the importance of bipartisan support for emerging health and long-term care initiatives. Please read a more detailed summary of the meetings here.

The Farm Bill that passed the Senate on June 21, 2012 continue the strong structure of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We appreciate the leadership of Majority Leader Reid, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow and Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Roberts in maintaining that structure. The bill does, however, contain a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP that will harm large numbers of struggling families. That provision limits the ability of states to operate "Heat and Eat" policies, and will trigger sizable reductions on monthly SNAP benefits for many households. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an estimated 500,000 households a year will lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits. AJFCA will continue to work with partners in the advocacy community to make sure that the House of Representatives understands the importance of preserving SNAP. Please view the JTA article for details.

As you may know, the Senate and House passed very different versions of the VAWA Reauthorization bill. Lee Sherman and Shelley Rood of AJFCA joined leaders from Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the Religious Action Center as we met with staff from Majority Leader Harry Reid's office and Senator Chuck Schumer's office. This advocacy group is continuing to meet with House and Senate leadership to convince them to come to a bipartisan agreement on VAWA. For AJFCA's position, please view the attached letter.

Federal funds awarded Friday will help bolster the security of nonprofit institutions deemed by the Department of Homeland Security to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including many Jewish organizations and institutions. The Jewish Federations of North America has historically led the effort to fund these programs and the organization hailed the allocation of $10 million to numerous nonprofits through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NPSG) - with more than 97 percent awarded to Jewish institutions and facilities. We continue to express gratitude toward U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Congressional leaders for their ongoing support of this vital program, as well as support for the program from key partners including the Orthodox Union (OU). Please read the JTA article and JFNA's press release for more details.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to recognize the 40th Anniversary of the Munich 11 tragedy, in which 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches were taken hostage by the Black September terrorist group and murdered during the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the resolution, which urges the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to observe a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) previously introduced a resolution in the House at the urging of their constituents from the Jewish Community Center in Rockland County. Earlier this year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a petition from the victims' families to include a moment of silence at the 2012 Summer Olympics. By passing this resolution, the U.S. Senate joins the city council of London, the Canadian Parliament, the German Foreign Minister, and Australian Parliament in calling for recognition. Please see the JTA article for details.

The deck is stacked against young people growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in America. Official government discrimination or indifference along with social ostracism leaves many teens disaffected and disconnected in their own homes and neighborhoods. With an increase in public awareness about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and the strikingly high number of LGBT youth who are homeless, in fosHRC logoter care, or living in high-risk situations, it is critical that we get a better understanding of the experiences, needs, and concerns of LGBT youth.

The Human Rights Campaign's report, Growing Up LGBT in America, is a groundbreaking survey of more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17. It provides a stark picture of the difficulties they face -- the impact on their well-being is profound, however these youth are quite resilient. They find safe havens among their peers, online and in their schools. They remain optimistic and believe things will get better. Nevertheless, the findings are a call to action for all adults who want ensure that young people can thrive.

To read the results, download the PDF.

Share your expertise with more than 3,000 attendees who will come to Chicago March 12th-16th from across the nation to hear about your experiences, best practices and lessons learned at the 2013 Aging in America Conference. Whether you are a seasoned presenter at Aging in America or submitting for the first time, you are encouraged to submit a proposal by July 2nd to present. Click here for more information.

Click here to view the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's regional map, including offices and contact information.

Tell Sharsheret How You're Thriving
More than 1,500 breast cancer survivors have taken the National Survivorship Survey, providing valuable feedback that will help shape Sharsheret's new survivorship program, Thriving Again. If you haven't taken the survey and would like to share your experience,  you can take the survey today and pass the link along to any breast cancer survivors you know who were diagnosed at or before the age of 45. You can also share your experience at Sharsheret's upcoming online focus group from anywhere in the U.S. If you are interested in participating, or know someone who may be, contact Program Coordinator  Danna Averbook.

New Financial Health Program
Sharsheret is excited to announce the development of a new program to address financial wellness during a health crisis. Sharsheret wants to learn more about your questions regarding insurance coverage, treatment costs, and financial and estate planning after a diagnosis. Save the date for Sharsheret's Financial Health Roundtable Discussion, Wednesday, November 7, 2012. For more information, contact Link Program Coordinator Adina Fleischmann. This program is made possible with a generous grant from The Jewish Women's Foundation of New York.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) is testing the Advance Payment Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model for participants in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The Shared Savings Program provides incentives for participating health care providers who agree to work together and become accountable for coordinating care for patients. The Advance Payment ACO Model is designed to test whether physician-owned or rural providers participating in the Shared Savings Program would benefit from additional start-up resources to build the necessary infrastructure, such as new staff or information technology systems. Selected participants in the testing of the Advance Payment ACO Model will receive upfront and monthly payments, which they can use to make important investments in their care coordination infrastructures.

Last October, the Innovation Center had announced that applications for the testing of the Advance Payment ACO model would only be accepted for the Shared Savings Program start dates of April 1, 2012 and July 1, 2012.  Today, however, the Innovation Center announced that it is accepting applications for an additional round of Advance Payment ACO Model for organizations that would begin the Shared Savings Program on January 1, 2013.

Organizations interested in the testing of the Advance Payment ACO Model should start their application process by submitting a mandatory non-binding Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply for the Shared Savings Program performance period that begins January 1, 2013. This NOI is due June 30, 2012. Organizations that submit this NOI will then have the opportunity to submit applications to both the Shared Savings Program and the Advance Payment ACO Model. Information regarding the Shared Savings Program and the NOI is available at:  http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/sharedsavingsprogram/Application.html. More information about the Advance Payment ACO model is available at:  http://innovations.cms.gov/initiatives/ACO/Advance-Payment/index.html.

The Claims Conference is pleased to announce the publication of Kavod Volume 2. This issue features articles on music therapy; Holocaust survivors of sexual abuse; identity and resilience among Soviet child survivors; linguistic analysis; the work of a consortium of mental health professionals with survivors in New York City; and more. To learn more about Kavod, click here.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) wants your input. CNCS is seeking the best thinking from the national service network and the public about two key topics:  a unified training and technical assistance strategy, and disability programming for all CNCS programs. A notice has been published in the Federal Register inviting public comment on these topics. Your feedback will be used to inform planning as CNCS transitions from a formula-based methodology to competitive processes for awarding funds.  

There are several ways you can participate. You may send your written comments to tta@cnCNCSs.gov. You may participate in a CNCS-hosted listening session at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service or conference calls later this month (see below). You can also submit your comments via  www.regulations.gov, by mail, or by fax. Details on these methods are in the Federal Register notice.

National Conference Listening Session - Tuesday, June 19th, 8:30am

Conference Call #1: Monday, June 25th, 4:00pm ET, call-in number 888-324-4147, participant passcode: POWELL

Conference Call #2:  Thursday, June 28th, 12:30pm ET, call-in number 800-779-1632, participant passcode: 2116663


If you plan to join a conference call, please send an email with your name, title, organization, contact information, and which call you will be joining to tta@cns.gov. Transcripts will be available on the CNCS website following each call. Please check the CNCS website  for further information and updates.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version of the Farm Bill, which included a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP. The reduction came from a program called Heat and Eat. The program predominantly benefits low-income seniors and people with disabilities. It is estimated that if this change goes into effect, 500,000 low-income households would lose an average of $90 in monthly benefits.  Senator Gillibrand (NY-D) has introduced a bi-partisan supported amendment (S.A. 2156) to the Farm Bill that will restore the $4.5 billion cut made to SNAP (formerly know as Food Stamps). The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment in the coming days.

Please take action and call or email your Senator.

Template Letter with CBO statistics on SNAP
(Please use or personalize this text)

Jewish Platform for a Just Farm Bill (You may also send this to your Senator)

Call Toll Free: 1-877-698-8228 (Thanks to our friends at Feeding America for the toll-free line!)

As to speak to the staff member who is working on the Farm Bill.  If unavailable, leave a message or tell the person who answers the phone:

"Hi. My name is ___________ and I represent __[insert name of agency]_____. I'm concerned about the Farm Bill that the Senate is considering this week. We need a strong Farm Bill to ensure that low-income families, children, and seniors don't go hungry each day. Please support the Gillibrand amendment to restore $4.5 billion to SNAP. Thanks."

Please let Shelley Rood know once you have taken action so we can monitor the response!  If you have questions, please ask Shelley Rood.

Baby boomers are about to swell the ranks of older Americans. By 2050, the population of individuals aged 65 or older will increase 120 percent from 40 million to more than 88 million; put another way, one in every five Americans will be 65+. The numbers of Americans aged 85 or older will more than triple over the same period to 19 million. Demand for housing will shift dramatically and the need for services to help older adults age in place will grow exponentially.

Are we prepared? The 2012 Aging Report, published by NHSA, looks at the housing situation of older adults now and implications for the near future. It includes a detailed analysis of data from the most recent American Housing Survey and presents results by age group (65-74, 74-84, 85+) because the housing needs of "younger" older adults and the oldest adults are quite different. It draws on a variety of other sources to round out the picture of housing challenges that we must prepare for now. As the report demonstrates, the challenges are enormous.

Housing an Aging Population, May 14, 2012, National Assembly

PBS has launched Next Avenue, a new website designed to engage the 50+ population and help them plan for their "bonus years." The site will provide visitors with original content on issues such as health, finances, work, leisure, and caregiving-as well as content from a variety of expert sources, including NCOA.

Please join The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the National Medicare Education Program Meeting (NMEP) on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 from 9am-12:30pm in Washington, DC at the Embassy Row Hotel. CMS will share updates, there will also be opportunities to network and collaborate with those in attendance. Registration information will be available soon. There is no fee to attend this meeting. For more information please contact Carol Blue, Meeting Planner at 301-657-4254, ext 333.

Last April, the United States Congress moved one step closer to bestowing the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal upon Raoul Wallenberg for his heroic mission to save the lives of nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Thank you for your strong support in this initiative.

The House of Representatives, due in part to your efforts to secure the cosponsorship of more than 300 representatives, unanimously approved the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act (H.R. 3001).  With its passage in the House, the bill moves on to the Senate, which must pass either the House bill or an identical Senate bill (S. 1591) to bestow upon Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.

Through passage of this legislation, Congress can honor a true humanitarian for the sake of his family and the thousands of survivors who he saved. We ask for your assistance in thanking your Representative for their support for this effort, as well as securing the support of your Senators to cosponsor this legislation. There are currently 46 Senate cosponsors, and the bill needs 67 to bring it to a vote.  Please click here to take action!

This is not an issue that our agencies typically work on, but we thought some of you might be personally interested to know about it.

During the 1972 Olympics in Munich, members of the Black September terrorist group murdered eleven athletes and coaches from the Israeli Olympic Team. Memorials have been placed around the world in their honor, including a sculpture at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Rockland County, New York.  The JCC Association of North America has also included a memorial tribute to the murdered Israeli athletes and coaches at the Opening Ceremonies of every JCC Maccabi Games since 1995. Despicably, there has never been a formal acknowledgement of this tragedy at any Olympic Games, including the 1972 Munich Games, which continued uninterrupted.

Along with our partners at the JCC Association, The Jewish Federations of North America believes that now, as we approach the 40th anniversary of this tragedy, is the time for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to rectify its inaction by honoring the memory of the slain athletes and coaches. Unfortunately, requests for this recognition made by the Israeli government have been rejected by the IOC. In fact, similar requests by the families of the victims have been consistently rejected over the past four decades. It is in this vein that we ask for your support for efforts to bring publicity to this travesty by supporting the "Just One Minute" campaign and advocating on behalf of a resolution in the House of Representatives.

House Resolution 663, which calls upon the IOC to recognize the "Munich 11" with a minute of silence during every Olympics Opening Ceremony, was recently introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey (D-NY). Cosponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), this resolution also urges the IOC to take the opportunity afforded by the 40th anniversary of this terrorist attack to remind the world that the Olympics were established to send a message of hope and peace through sport and athletic competition. Finally, it resolves that the House of Representatives should observe a moment of silence to commemorate this terrorist attack and remember those who lost their lives.  

H. Res. 663 needs as many cosponsors as possible in order to come to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote prior to the opening of the London Olympic Games. Therefore, we ask for your assistance with contacting your Representative to urge them to cosponsor this resolution. Please click here to take action.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany was established in 1951 to secure justice for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution through a combination of negotiations, disbursing funds to individuals and organizations, and seeking the return of Jewish property lost during the Holocaust. Many AJFCA member agencies work with Holocaust survivors and receive funding from the Claims Conference. AJFCA and the Claims Conference continue their partnership, focusing on issues of concern to survivors and the Jewish community.

The stories of survivors served by our agencies are both poignant and inspiring. Rene Hammond, native Czechoslovakian, learned in school to speak fluent Hungarian, Czech, and English - skills she says "equipped her for survival after the Nazis invaded." Read Rene's entire story to learn about her escape from concentration camp in 1945 and what led her to Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has launched a new online statement that gives eligible workers secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information. The online statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, and information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare. In February, SSA resumed mailing paper statements to workers age 60+ who are not already receiving Social Security benefits. Learn more here.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has launched a new online statement that gives eligible workers secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information. The online statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, and information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare. In February, SSA resumed mailing paper statements to workers age 60+ who are not already receiving Social Security benefits. Learn more here.
On May 11th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released two rules that support State efforts to expand access to home and community based services (HCBS) for people with disabilities:
  • Final Rule: Community First Choice (CMS-2337-F)
  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Home and Community-Based State Plan Benefit (CMS-2249-P2), otherwise known as the "1915(i)" notice of proposed rulemaking.
Community First Choice (CMS-2337-F)

This final rule implements the Community First Choice State plan option, which was authorized by the Affordable Care Act and provides an incentive for States to expand Medicaid coverage for person-centered home and community-based attendant services and supports. States that elect the Community First Choice option are eligible for a 6 percentage point increase in their federal medical assistance percentage. Individuals who require an institutional level of care are eligible for the services, which will be offered in community-based settings.
The Affordable Care Act directs that the Community First Choice benefit may only be available in a "home or community" setting, and this rule does not finalize language regarding the definition for such settings. CMS articulated standards for settings in Community First Choice's proposed rule, but based on the comments the agency received, CMS decided to revise the standard and seek public comment again. The revised standard is in the 1915(i) proposed regulation that CMS released today (discussed below.) 

While the settings requirements are proposed, the Community First Choice option is in full effect, and CMS will rely upon these proposed provisions as we review new State plan amendments to implement the Community First Choice option. To the extent that there are changes when the settings standard is finalized, we are committed to offering States a reasonable transition period (of not less than one year) to make any needed changes to come into compliance with the final rule so as to minimize any disruption to State systems that were established in compliance with the proposed regulations.

The rule is displayed at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/05/07/2012-10294/medicaid-program-community-first-choice-option.

Additional information is available at: http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.

1915(i) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (CMS-2249-P2)

This notice of proposed rulemaking defines and describes the option available to States under section 1915(i) of the Social Security Act, first authorized in 2005 and enhanced by the Affordable Care Act. This option permits States to offer home and community-based services under the Medicaid State plan without the use of a waiver. As a result, States will have the ability to provide a full array of home and community-based services to individuals who do not qualify for an institutional level of care but have significant services needs, which can include individuals with mental health conditions, Autism Spectrum Disorder, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or Alzheimer's disease.

The rule also contains other provisions related to home and community based services, including:
  • A proposed definition of home and community based settings that will serve as a common definition for services offered through the Community First Choice option and the 1915(i) State plan option.
  • A five-year approval or renewal period for demonstration and waivers programs through which a State serves individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
This notice of proposed rulemaking is open for public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Please refer to the Federal Register for specific instructions about submitting comments.

The rule is displayed at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/05/03/2012-10385/state-plan-home-and-community-based-services-5-year-period-for-waivers-etc-medicaid-program.

Additional information is available at: http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.
June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), recognized by the United Nations. Use the National Council On Agings' resources to plan an event in your community. You can host a screening and discussion of An Age for Justice, a 16-minute video produced by NCOA and WITNESS. Or use NCOA'a Savvy Saving Seniors training guide to conduct an educational session on how to avoid scams and financial abuse.
On May 6th Sharsheret celebrated with more than 550 supporters, volunteers, and friends at their Annual Benefit.  Sharsheret is thankful for continued support, enabling them to provide critical services to Jewish women, their families, and communities nationwide.  The event was a tremendous success and demonstrated that it truly does take a team. Watch their new video, "It Takes A Team", which debuted at the event, and share this link with friends. Save the date for next year's Annual Benefit, Sunday, May 5, 2013!
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has announced $728 million in Affordable Care Act grants to community health centers across the country.  The grants are intended to help existing community health centers serve nearly 900,000 more patients, expand and modernize their facilities and create jobs in local communities.  America's 8,500 community health centers have not have the space, staff and resources to meet the needs presented to them.  These grants are targeted to meet the needs of the health centers so they may more fully meet the needs of their local communities.  See Secretary Sebelius' blog post for more information on this important initiative.
The elections this November provide another opportunity for citizens to become engaged in the political process. Charitable organizations that fall under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code such as Jewish Federations and affiliated agencies are "absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." Violation of this prohibition can result in the imposition of fines, and in some cases, revocation of tax-exempt status.

Although there are many political activities in which nonprofits are prohibited from participating, there are also some in which charities may legally engage. AJFCA and JFNA encourages member agencies to engage in political opportunities in a manner consistent with the information provided in this memorandum in order to promote policy issues, meet with and educate elected officials and those seeking elective office, and ensure that citizens exercise their right to vote.

This memo is intended to be a brief outline of some permissible activities in which 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in during an election year. It covers distinctions between legislative and electoral activity, voter registration and education, activities conducted by individuals as opposed to organizations, and more.  AJFCA and JFNA encourage you to share this memo with your affiliates and other agencies in your community, but please note that this memo is not intended to constitute legal advice and an attorney should be contacted as necessary.

Please read the full memo here

If you have any questions, please contact Steven Woolf, JFNA's Senior Tax Policy Counsel, at  202-736-5763.
Older Americans Month is celebrated each May to honor and recognize older Americans for the contributions they make to families, communities and society. To assist the National Aging Network and other group plans for activities during the month of May or throughout the year, the Administration on Aging (AoA) issued a theme for Older Americans Month. This year's theme "Never Too Old to Play" encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active logo and involved in their own lives and in their communities.

Consider hosting a Day of Play during Older Americans Month. Visit OlderAmericansMonth.org where you can access useful resources and tools to help you plan and promote events and activities honoring older Americans. You can also use the site to announce your activity or share great stories about your event with the Nation.

Older Americans Month, April 24, 2012, NCOA
 
 
On April 16th, the United States Congress moved one step closer to bestowing the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal upon Raoul Wallenberg for his heroic mission to save the lives of nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Thank you for your strong support of this initiative.

The House of Representatives, due in part to your efforts to secure the cosponsorship of more than 300 representatives, unanimously approved the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act (H.R. 3001).  With its passage in the House, the bill moves on to the Senate, which must pass either the House bill or an identical Senate bill (S. 1591) to bestow upon Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.

Through passage of this legislation, Congress can honor a true humanitarian for the sake of his family and the thousands of survivors who he saved.  This is especially timely as we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day today. We ask for your assistance in thanking your Representative for their support for this effort, as well as securing the support of your Senators to cosponsor this legislation.

Action Steps

Thank Your Representative

1. Enter your zip code on the top right of the following website to locate the name and phone number of    your Representative: http://www.house.gov.

2. Please call their office and:
  • Thank them for voting for H.R. 3001, the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act.
  • Urge them to work with their colleagues in the United States Senate to pass either H.R. 3001 or S. 1591 and complete the process of bestowing upon Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.
Contact Your Senators

3. Please visit the following website and select your state from the "Find Your Senators" dropdown menu on the top right to find the names and phone numbers of your senators: http://www.senate.gov.

4. Check the following website, listing current cosponsors of this legislation, to see if your senators are cosponsors: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:S.1591:@@@N

5. If your senators are already cosponsors, please call their offices and:
  • Thank them for cosponsoring S. 1591, the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act.
  • Urge them to contact Sen. Tim Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and request that S. 1591 or H.R. 3001 be considered by the Committee as soon as possible.
6. If your senators are not yet cosponsors, please call their offices and express the following:
  • As your constituent, I urge you to cosponsor S. 1591, the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act.
  • Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Nazi-occupied Hungary, is recognized as a hero of the Holocaust for his extensive and successful mission to save the lives of nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews.
  • He is one of the truly inspiring figures of the 20th Century, and many prominent Americans Jews, including the late Congressman Tom Lantos and his wife Annette, credit their survival to his heroic actions.
  • Please cosponsor this legislation, which would bestow upon him the Congressional Gold Medal this year, the 100th anniversary of his birth.
  • To cosponsor this bill, please contact Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at 202-224-6542. Thank you so much for your support!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Shelley Rood.
Last night, the Senate passed the reauthorization of VAWA by a vote of 68-31. This reauthorized version includes needed improvements in the law that provides federal law enforcement agencies the tools and authority to combat crimes against women. Since the first enactment of VAWA in 1994, instances of violence against women have decreased 53 percent. Now the House of Representatives must pass VAWA for it to become law. 

We can expect to see partisan disagreement in the House and we will keep you informed as this bill makes its way through the legislative process. If you have any questions, please contact Shelley. For link to the full article, click here.

Lee Sherman, AJFCA CEO and Lori Weinstein, Executive Director of Jewish Women International, co-authored an op ed, in early March, highlighting the issue of domestic violence in the Jewish community and calling for advocacy for continuation of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

In recognition of JFS Delaware's excellent work in domestic violence prevention, Vice President Biden invited JFS Delaware to the White House on April 18th for a panel discussion on the Violence Against Women Act and a private lunch with the Vice President. Attending with Dory Zatuchni, CEO, was Scott Michels, Director of Youth Development, Brahmin Jackson, Media Matters intern and case manager, and Tre Bracey, Media Matters intern. We are so proud of Dory and her team for representing JFS at the highest level of government. Please read Dory's detailed account of the day, including a description of the briefing and private lunch.
If you missed the 2012 American Society on Aging, Aging in America Conference in Washington, DC last month, there's still a chance for you to learn what's new in the field. The National Council on Aging posted all of its presentations online, where you can download them for free. Topics include falls prevention, funding sources, isolated seniors, Older Americans Act reauthorization, and much more.

Download Presentations from Aging in America, NCOA, April 17, 2012
This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of a new agency, the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The ACL will combine the efforts of the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities into one agency, with enhanced policy and program support for cross-cutting initiatives focused on the unique needs of particular groups such as children or adults with developmental or physical disabilities, or seniors, including seniors with Alzheimer's. Kathy Greenlee, the Assistant Secretary for Aging, who has met with family service agencies and federations on numerous occasions, will lead the newly formed organization and serve as its Administrator.

The Administration for Community Living announced:

"All Americans - including people with disabilities and seniors - should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions. To help meet these needs, HHS is creating a new organization, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) with the goal of increasing access to community supports and full participation, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities."

More information can be found at the Administration for Community Living. AJFCA will monitor this development, including the reactions coming from the disabilities and aging communities and Congressional leaders, and keep you apprised of how this will affect local programs. As you may know, AJFCA has excellent working relationships with leaders of these agencies and our voice remains vital as ever. Please contact Shelley Rood if you have questions.
The deadline for submitting the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) applications is Wednesday, April 4th. Per the grant guidelines: "Applications must be submitted by the nonprofit organization to the SAA/UAWG (if they are separate entities), no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT, April 4, 2012 to ensure adequate time for a State review of nonprofit applications."

We recommend that you submit the day prior to allow for any foreseen hiccups with filing (i.e., electronic mishaps). We also remind you that applicants should provide complete answers as each question is scored. Full answers are better than partial answers and partial answers are better than no answers. If you have not read through JFNA's online materials, please do so. It takes a minute to register if you have not already done so. Some of the materials placed on the site provide recommendations on how to most fully complete answers to questions.

Thank you, and if you have any questions, please contact Rob Goldberg at JFNA.
On March 29th, the House and Senate each passed a three-month extension of the highway bill, avoiding a shutdown of transportation programs that would have expired on March 31st. Congress will have three months to develop and pass transportation legislation. 

AJFCA and JFNA, together with partners in aging and transportation services, worked with Congress and the Administration to advocate for this reauthorization. During the next three months, we will continue to work to make sure that priorities for seniors and people with disabilities are maintained. For example, we will push for an overall increased authorization for the Section 5310 services for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as the New Freedom and Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) programs. We will continue to support the National Center on Senior Transportation, which JFNA helped establish in 2006. In addition, we will fight to maintain provisions that passed the Senate such as allowing grants to be used for operating assistance, improving coordination of programs between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services, and improving data reporting on programs that serve the elderly and people with disabilities. We will insist that seniors and individuals with disabilities be part of the transportation planning process.  

Thank you for your advocacy on this issue. We will continue to keep you informed as the transportation bill is debated in Congress. Please email Shelley Rood with any questions.
I read the below Washington Post Article with great interest, particularly with the Senate leading the drafting of the next Older Americans Act Reauthorization bill this session.

The article confirms that the majority of Baby Boomers responded that they are "'very' or 'extremely' likely [to] remain in their homes throughout retirement." It underscores that with Aging, older adults will need help (including with mobility, transportation, health care management, social isolation, and much more).

The article, however, focused on the growing business of Aging in Place (a $2 billion dollar industry that could potentially grow to $20 billion, annually, according to the article). What the article missed, is that most older adults live on fixed (and in this economy diminished) incomes, many are at or close to poverty levels, and most expect services and supports to be provided to them to ensure their independence, and not paid by them out of pocket. Most do not intend or have the ability to self insure or, in other words, to pay businesses to help them age in place.

While we applaud innovation in services that may be brought about through earnings driven businesses, nonprofits and public agencies that make up the Aging Services Network (partners with the Administration on Aging and the Area Agencies on Aging) are focused on promoting innovative service models that will enable us to do more for and reach more of the growing segment of the older adults population who will turn to us, rather than the business community, generally, for supports.

Community Innovations for Aging in Place (CIAIP) is the singular program authorized by Congress to promote innovations in Aging in Place. We truly hope it survives fiscal year 2012 and the ongoing budget challenges facing The Older Americans Act Title IV, which funds CIAIP and all other innovative Aging Services Programs.
Join the ranks of Yad Vashem's worldwide network of Jewish communities and volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover and commemorate the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. Several JFS agencies have already successfully augmented their Holocaust Survivor Services with this meaningful program by assisting survivors to fill out Pages of Testimony and honor the memory of those they knew who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Over four million names and short biographies of Jews murdered in the Holocaust are recorded in Yad Vashem's  Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. The names of millions of victims remain unknown, and time is running out. We need your help to complete this historic task! Submit a Page of Testimony for each victim today.

HOW CAN YOU DO THIS?

SEARCH the Database for victims you know of and check into your own personal family history
SUBMIT additional (unrecorded) names by filling out a Page of Testimony for each victim online.
            or
DOWNLOAD Pages of Testimony and fill one out for each victim.
SEND your completed Pages of Testimony directly to: 
Cynthia Wroclawski
c/o Yad Vashem, Names Project
POB 3477
Jerusalem 91034 Israel

READ the stories of family connections and reunions thanks to the Names Database. 

Contact names.outreach@yadvashem.org.il for more information.  
April 17th-this year's tax deadline-is right around the corner. How can you and the older adults in your life save as much as possible? Here are 6 tips to consider.

1. See if there's a tax relief program that can help you. Use BenefitsCheckUp.
2. Get free tax assistance from the IRS. Find out more from the IRS.
3. Protect yourself from tax scams. Learn about scams and how to protect yourself.
4. Explore how to use and protect your home equity.  Visit Home Equity Advisor.
5. Review this year's changes in the tax law.  See what's new.
6. Save your tax refund.  Learn about savings bonds.

NCOA Offers 6 Tax-Time Tips for Seniors, March 19, 2012, NCOA
Today, March 23rd, marks the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. New materials are now available on the health care law to help the public better understand the benefits and provisions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has new PowerPoint slides about the Affordable Care Act, fact sheets on how the law helps certain populations and a general brochure. To find out how the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in your state, click here

Please find the schedule for the Affordable Care Act conference call series in the Upcoming Webinar section of this newsletter, or on the AJFCA website. The conference calls provide an overview of the law and information on how to help those in your congregation and community access care. Additionally, the calls also offer faith and community leaders and members of the public a unique opportunity to interact directly with senior HHS staff and ask any questions they may have about the Affordable Care Act.

Join Teresa Nino , Director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of Public Engagement on April 23rd at the AJFCA Annual Conference to learn more about The Affordable Care Act and Your Agency.
On March 14th the Senate voted 74-22 to reauthorize the transportation bill, 'Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act' (S. 1813), which contains key provisions that benefit America's seniors and persons with disabilities. The Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies and The Jewish Federations of North America, together with partners in aging and transportation services, worked with Congress and the Administration to advocate for this reauthorization. The House could take up a version of this Senate bill, or pass separate legislation. Since the provisions in the Senate bill would benefit seniors and people with disabilities, we encourage you to contact your Representatives and urge the House to maintain these vital provisions.

While combining Department of Transportation programs that aid seniors and people with disabilities, the bill authorizes $248.6 million for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for the combined Section 5310 services. This represents a $23 million increase overall, with potentially more benefits for programs supporting these vulnerable populations. The bill reauthorizes the National Center on Senior Transportation, which The Jewish Federations of North America helped establish in 2006.

In addition, the Senate bill allows for grants to be used for operating assistance, improves coordination of programs between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services, and improves data reporting on programs that serve the elderly and people with disabilities. The bill maintains that seniors and individuals with disabilities must be part of the transportation planning process.
AJFCA has signed on to the Jewish Vision for a Just Farm Bill. As agencies that serve the hungry, we support policies that will result in more efficient and fair ways of providing food to the needy.  Please view the statement here. AJFCA will have opportunities to provide guidance as the bill makes its way through the legislative process. If you have any questions, please contact Shelley.
The federal Medicaid agency awarded $75 million in funding Tuesday, March 13th for a program that looks for cheaper, more effective ways to treat mental illness.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., were selected to take part in the demonstration program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said. States will use the money to provide Medicaid coverage for inpatient psychiatric hospitals.

Medicaid does not pay for mentally ill patients to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals, largely because of historical concerns that states would warehouse those patients in large facilities. Medicaid patients who are experiencing a mental-health emergency - such as suicidal or homicidal thoughts - are instead admitted to hospital emergency rooms.

The demonstration project will allow Medicaid patients to use psychiatric hospitals, which CMS hopes will improve the quality of care they receive while also cutting down on emergency-room costs. The demonstration was authorized by the healthcare reform law.

Sending suicidal or homicidal patients to general hospitals "may not be an efficient use of health care dollars, and may be detrimental to vulnerable patients - especially when they could immediately be treated in the setting with more appropriate care," acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

The 11 states selected to take part in the pilot program are Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia.

CMS Awards $75 Million to Test New Mental-Health Benefits in Medicaid, March 13, 2012, The Hill, by Sam Baker

You are invited to a national Let's Move! Conference Call for faith and community leaders. On Wednesday, March 14th at 2:00 PM Eastern, Sam Kass, White House Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, will join with faith and community leaders by conference call to invite participation in the Communities on the Move Video Challenge. The Video Challenge encourages faith-based and neighborhood organizations to create one-to-three minute videos highlighting their work to make their communities healthier. Winners will be invited to visit Washington, DC to share their videos with the First Lady at the White House. Organizations have until Friday, April 6th to enter the Video Challenge. The Challenge is part of Let's Move Faith and Communities, which engages congregations and neighborhood organizations in the effort to end childhood obesity within a generation.

Date: Wednesday, March 14th
Time: 2:00pm ET, 1:00pm CT, 12:00pm MT, 11:00am PT
Dial-in information: 1-800-288-8960

Join the Let's Move Faith and Communities network of supporters by signing up online. Please forward this invitation to your members and partners.  You do not need to RSVP for this call. If you have questions, please email collaborate@usda.gov.

AJFCA has joined with a coalition of organizations to cosign a letter to Congress in support of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  WIC is a short-term, mission-driven preventive public health nutrition program designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors in a targeted, high-risk population. WIC provides nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods, and improved healthcare access for low- and moderate -income women and children with, or at risk of developing, nutrition-related health problems. Nationally, WIC serves approximately 9 million mothers and young children per month, including 53% of all infants in the U.S.  Your agency is invited to cosign this letter.  Please review the text of the letter  and email Samantha Lee with your organization name and contact information by COB Friday, March 23, 2012 if you choose to sign on. Please cc Shelley Rood and feel free to contact Shelley with any questions.

JFNA-Washington, in collaboration with AJFCA, met with senior staff on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss the outlook for EFSP (and other issues) within the FY2013 HLS Appropriations bill. This program has seen a drop in funding over the past two funding cycles by 40%.

While the Subcommittee staff reiterated their genuine support for EFSP, it is a quirky program within FEMA - they said - that does not generate a broad or natural coalition of support in Congress.

To help turn that around, and knowing how important it is to appropriations decisions, that the Subcommittee receive broad support for the initiatives they fund, it was recommended that JFNA and AJFCA work to generate appropriation request letters from members of the US Senate. In the next couple of weeks, JFNA-Washington, with the help of AJFCA, will develop a template and talking points to distribute to the field to be used in requests for the generation of Senate letters and their submission to the HLS Appropriations Subcommittee.  We will share this template and further guidance when it becomes available. Please contact Shelley Rood  with questions.

March 28th is Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, sponsored by the National Council On Aging as part of the 2012 American Society on Aging's Aging in America Conference. Hundreds of advocates will visit with their lawmakers on Capitol Hill to speak up for older adults. If you're coming to the conference, there's still time to register for this event. Can't make it to DC? You can still tell Congress what matters to the seniors you serve! Sign up for NCOA's Virtual Advocacy Day, and they'll send you quick and easy actions you can take from your computer. You'll be able to send a letter to Congress, share it on Facebook, and more.   

NCOA is asking Congress to:

1. Protect and invest in funding for aging programs and services

2. Support Older Americans Act reauthorization

3. Protect and strengthen health care
Ottawa, March 6, 2012 - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on ‘Israel Apartheid Week’:

Like many Canadians I am concerned with the rise of anti-Israel activities on campuses across Canada, culminating in the so-called ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ (IAW), which is often promoted in a manner that disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors.

Universities are meant to offer an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely. Jewish faculty and students have the right to engage in this debate without feeling the need to conceal their identity, or to self-censor.

The irony of this week cannot be overlooked.  While singling out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East for condemnation, the organizers of IAW ignore Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal slaughter of his own people and the suppression of basic human rights throughout many countries in the Middle East.

Debate over Israeli policy is legitimate and encouraged through academic dialogue. Israel, as the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, encourages such free exchanges of ideas.  However, there is a point at which well-intentioned debate is overrun by hatred and intolerance; creating a toxic environment that prevents meaningful dialogue on important issues from taking place.

The organizers of Israel Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel. In reality, this week is nothing more than an unbalanced attempt to paint Israel, and her supporters as racist. This week runs contrary to Canadian values of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.

As Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance, which are unacceptable and completely contrary to Canada’s fundamental values.
This week, Lee Sherman and Lori Weinstein, Executive Director of Jewish Women International, co-authored an op ed highlighting the issue of domestic violence in the Jewish community and calling for advocacy for continuation of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To read the article on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website and find out how you can join AJFCA and JWI in asking Congress to reauthorize VAWA, please read here.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced more assistance to states as HHS implements three new provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The announcement gives states help by: 

  • Providing a new round of Affordable Insurance Exchange Establishment Grants, totaling $229 million to 10 states, to help states build new health insurance marketplaces;
  • Promoting transparency and meaningful public input into the Medicaid demonstration process, and streamlining the federal-state consideration process as states test new models of care;
  • Supporting innovation and implement the health care solutions that work best for them.
"We're taking important actions that will give states more resources and more flexibility, and ensure transparency thanks to the Affordable Care Act," said Secretary Sebelius. "All Americans will have access to quality, affordable health care once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, and today's steps are important measures that ensure that States have the help they need to administer their Medicaid programs and oversee their insurance markets while assuring meaningful input for consumers and beneficiaries."

To learn more about what HHS has planned for the future, refer to the entire article.
Earlier this month the President sent his Budget Request to Congress for fiscal year 2013. The request recommends a further cut to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) of $20 million, which was already cut by $80 million (40%) in bother FY2011 and FY2012 - a combined loss of $160 million in funding over these two years.

Through the leadership of The Jewish Federations of North America, and with the support of AJFCA, the EFSP program's allocation increased from $153 million in FY2008 to $200 million in FY2009 and FY2010 (and received an addition $100 million within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).  Both JFNA and AJFCA are working to bolster the EFSP program in light of the slow pace of the economic recovery, and continued record poverty and unemployment around the country.

In this regard, for a second consecutive year, we are working with Representative Alcee Hasting (D-Florida), to return lost funding to EFSP. To start, Representative Hastings is circulating the attached funding letter to Appropriators and Dear Colleague letter and Dear Colleague letter requesting co-signatures to the letter that call upon Appropriators to fund EFSP at $200 million. It would be helpful and timely if you would forward this letter to your Members of Congress and request their support for this effort and signature on the letter as a co-signer. Please let Shelley know if you are able to help by forwarding this letter to your Member of Congress.
In 2011, millions of seniors and people with disabilities enjoyed lower costs and improved benefits thanks to the Affordable Care Act. This report details how over 25.7 million Americans in traditional Medicare received free preventive services in 2011. In Medicare Advantage, last year 9.3 million Americans - 97% of those in individual Medicare Advantage plans - were enrolled in a plan that offers free preventive services.

Assuming that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries utilized preventive services at the same rate as beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, an estimated 32.5 million beneficiaries benefited from Medicare's coverage of prevention with no cost sharing. Last year 3.6 million Americans also saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs as a result of provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

In addition, seniors are benefiting as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented:
  • By 2020, the "donut hole" coverage gap will be closed;
  • Premiums have remained low for seniors and people with disabilities in traditional Medicare;
  • Medicare will have stronger tools to fight fraud;
  • Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans continue to enjoy low premiums and broad choice in coverage;
  • Quality improvements will help prevent medical errors and promote coordination of care across Medicare and the health care system.
To learn more about the increasing strength of Medicare refer to the entire article. Additionally, you're invited to learn more from Teresa Niño, Director of The Office of Public Engagement, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference where she will give expert advice at Monday's Plenary Breakfast. To learn more about AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference please visit the AJFCA website.
Two Candidates Respond to National Survey but Many Remain Silent on How to Support Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities Who Need Care at Home

Every day, over 10 million frail seniors, younger people with disabilities, and their familiencoa logos struggle to find and pay for long-term care to stay independent and remain at home, and the need for care is expected to grow to over 15 million Americans by 2020.

Yet, the issue of long-term care has been completely absent from this year's presidential campaign. No questions have been asked during the debates. The candidates have not posted any views or positions on their websites, and only two candidates have responded to a national survey on their views to address this growing national challenge.

Long-term care helps older adults and individuals with disabilities manage everyday activities, such as dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, and taking medication. While these home care services are cost-effective and help people stay independent and out of expensive nursing homes, they are not covered by traditional health insurance. Medicare does not cover them, and only 3% of adults have private long-term care insurance. 

So, how do will this critical issue be brought to the forefront?

Missing from the Presidential Debate: Long-Term Care, February 21, 2012, NCOA, by Ken Schwartz, NCOA Director of Marketing & Communications
February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. As the unemployment rate continues to plague the U.S., it has and even harsher affect on the disabled community. jdam 2012 logo

    The average unemployment rate of the total U.S. population is 8%.
    The average unemployment rate of Americans with disabilities is 13.5%.
    There are 54 million Americans living with a disability.
    Of the 54 million Americans living with a disability, 35 million of those people have a "severe disability"

In a December op-ed in the Washington Post, Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, wrote of "the civil rights issue we need to talk about" - the rights of people with disabilities. The Ruderman Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization that focuses on the full inclusion of people with disabilities into Jewish life in the Boston area and in Israel.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as the ADA, was made into law in 1990, with the full support of the Reform Movement and Religious Action Center. Under the ADA, places of employment may not discriminate in hiring, firing, or promotions on the basis of disability - just as it may not do so on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or county of national origin. The ADA and a slew of state laws that came after it are responsible for disability-friendly building accessibility in the form of chairlifts, ramps, Braille signs, and other physical adaptations.

But contrary to popular belief, ensuring disability rights goes far beyond installing ramps and Braille signs. Read the full article and more about Jewish Disability Awareness Month.

Crisis of Employment in Disability Community, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, February 7, 2012
Yesterday, the White House formally submitted to Congress its 2013 budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2012. While JFNA recognizes the extreme seriousness posed by the burgeoning public debt which has topped $15 trillion and the annual federal deficit well exceeds $1 trillion, it is clear that the solution to this fiscal mess cannot be disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable in our society. JFNA understands that all solutions to the debt crisis require shared sacrifice and should be balanced while promoting economic growth, reducing the budget deficit, and creating jobs.

JFNA will work closely with our friends in Congress on both sides of the political aisle to ensure that our movement's budget priorities are adequately funded in the years ahead. To support us in that effort, we urge you to set up meetings with your Senators and Representatives to:
  • Continue to educate them about the important work in which our social service agencies engage;
  • Promote our collective program priorities; and
  • Insist that charitable contributions should receive favored treatment in any reduction of taxed exclusions and deductions. 
At $3.803 trillion and more than 2000 pages, the President's FY 2013 budget is the largest budget submission ever sent to Congress.  This year's budget includes $1.261 trillion in discretionary spending, divided between $851 billion in military, security, and foreign affairs expenditures and $410 billion for non-security domestic programs. Beyond the discretionary spending, the remainder of the budget is set aside for entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and other mandatory programs (totaling $2.293 trillion) and interest on the U.S. debt ($248 billion). Under this budget forecast, large deficits persist into the indefinite future, standing at $1.3 trillion for 2011 and $1.327 trillion for 2012. The deficit then would drop to $901 billion for 2013 but would stay above $600 billion for each year through 2021 with the exception of 2018 ($575 billion).

The FY 2013 budget attempts to implement the tight discretionary spending caps that became part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the President's budget puts "forward a plan that will, together with the deficit reduction enacted last year, cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade." This is accomplished by making "tough choices: cutting waste where we can, reducing spending in areas that are not critical to long-term economic growth and job creation, and asking everyone to pay their fair share." For instance, the budget would significantly reduce or eliminate 120 federal programs, saving $20 billion, and implement new tools for fraud prevention in Medicaid and Medicare, saving billions of dollars over the next decade. At the same time that it makes many cuts to a wide variety of federal programs, the President's budget calls for increased spending to bolster domestic manufacturing, lure jobs back from overseas, hire teachers, retrain workers and rebuild the nation's infrastructure.

In his budget submission, President Obama again proposes to reduce the value of itemized deductions for individuals making more than $200,000 (or $250,000 if married filing jointly). Today, they can deduct 33% or 35% of a qualified expense. Under the President's proposal, they would only be allowed to deduct 28%. The budget proposal would: 

"Reduce the Value of Itemized Deductions and Other Tax Preferences to 28 Percent for Families With Incomes Over $250,000. Currently, a millionaire who contributes to charity or deducts a dollar of mortgage interest, enjoys a deduction that is more than twice as generous as that for a middle-class family. The proposal would limit the tax rate at which high-income taxpayers can reduce their tax liability to a maximum of 28 percent, affecting only married taxpayers filing a joint return with income over $250,000 (at 2009 levels) and single taxpayers with income over $200,000. This limit would apply to: all itemized deductions; foreign excluded income; tax-exempt interest; employer sponsored health insurance; retirement contributions; and selected above-the-line deductions."

Another provision in the budget would further reduce itemized deductions for those with taxable income more than $250,000 (or $200,000 if single). This reduction would cut itemized deductions by 3 percent of the amount of income that exceeds the $250,000 or $200,000 threshold. JFNA has long advocated that any reduction in the value of itemized deductions should not apply to the charitable deduction. On the very same page of the Budget where the Administration would reduce the value of all itemized deductions, the President proposes a new "Buffett Rule." No household making over $1 million annually "should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle class families." This tax proposal was named in honor of Warren Buffett who has pointed out that his effective tax rate is lower than his secretary's. The President insists that "the Administration will work to ensure that this rule is implemented in a way that is equitable, including not disadvantaging individuals who make large charitable contributions." The same exception should be made with the itemized deduction. JFNA released a statement in response to the proposed change.

The President's budget does contain continued support for the IRA Charitable Rollover, long championed by JFNA, urging its extension through the end of 2013.

There are several cuts to the Medicaid program that, if enacted, will have ramifications for our community.  These budgetary changes center on how a state will be reimbursed for the services it offers the neediest in its communities.  The proposal, known as a blended rate, would reduce the federal share of Medicaid costs, and shift more of the financial burden to the states prompting them to cut payments to health care providers, including a vast array of Jewish partner agencies.    The blended rate would be set at a level that provided the state with less federal funding than required under current law.  The loss of the overall rate, combined with other technical adjustments to the Medicaid program amount to a loss of over $53 billion over a ten year period.    

The overall reaction on Capitol Hill to the submission of the budget was immediate and predictable. According to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), "the President's budget is a gloomy reflection of his failed policies of the past, not a bold plan for America's future. It is bad for job creation, our economy, and America's seniors." House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi felt "President Obama has laid out an innovative blueprint for restoring opportunity for all Americans and for constructing an economy that is built to last. The budget is balanced, fair, and responsible and is an investment in our economic growth, in job creation, and in a stronger, thriving middle class."

So is this budget submission important? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already made it clear that it would be foolish for Senate Democrats to put forward a budget, because the Budget Control Act passed this summer included specific spending caps for 2012 and 2013. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Sunday that he intends "to offer the President's budget for him so he'll have a chance to get a vote on it. You know, last year I had to offer his budget for him. Senate Democrats haven't passed a budget in a thousand days even though the law requires it." When Senator McConnell formally offered the Obama proposal last year in its introduced form, it failed by a vote of 97-0. Moreover, even if a budget were to pass, it is not binding law on the White House or Congress or the country. A budget is intended to focus the country's priorities with substantive law embodied in appropriations bills and pieces of policy legislation. In that sense, it is important but as a representing a vision of where this President would lead this country.

IMPACT ON DISCRETIONARY PROGRAMS

While the material below makes clear that not every federal program the federation system cares about would be cut, many are! We have reviewed thousands of pages of budgetary material and the program information found below is correct as we now know it, but we will be further analyzing and updating our analysis as appropriate. In this section we discuss in alphabetical order specific programs of interest and how they are affected by the FY 2013 budget proposal as compared to both FY 2011 (the last complete year of funding) and estimates for FY 2012.

Human Services

Under President Obama's budget, the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) would receive a slight increase from $16.950 billion in FY 2011 to $17.058 billion in FY 2013 ($16.739 billion estimated for FY 2012). 

Autism Spectrum Disorder occurs in 1 of 110 children. Research for Autism and other Developmental Disorders is funded through the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Service Administration. This program would be flat-funded from $47 million in FY 2012, a slight reduction from $48 million in FY 2011.

The Department of Agriculture's Commodity Supplemental Food Program which provides monthly packages of nutritious food, primarily to low-income seniors. This program would be cut from $196 million in FY 2011 and an estimated $192 million for FY 2012 to $187 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Community Services Block Grant, which provides effective resources for a number of federation agencies to help eliminate poverty, would be cut nearly in half to $350 million from $679 million as enacted in 2012. The Administration notes that while it "supports the important goals of the CSBG program," it "proposes a reduction of $329 million in order to meet fiscal targets. Introducing a system of standards and requiring competition will make better use of limited taxpayer funds by promoting innovation and assuring low-income families and communities are receiving high-quality services."

The Department of Agriculture's Emergency Food Assistance Program, which allows food banks (including kosher food pantries) to purchase commodities to re-supply food stocks, would receive a slight increase in funding from $247 million in FY 2011 and an estimated $260 million in FY 2012 to $270 million.

FEMA's Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which funds local community agencies to provide assistance with food, shelter, and utilities and a national program on which JFNA sits on the national board, would be cut from $120 million in FY 2011 and FY 2012 to $100 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides emergency heating assistance for many seniors and low-income individuals in the Jewish community in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, would be cut from$4.701 billion in FY 2011 to $3.020 billion in FY 2013 ($3.472 billion estimated for FY 2012).

While the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging (AOA) budget which oversees the Older Americans Act would appear to receive a substantial increase from $1.507 billion in FY 2011 to $1.949 billion ($1.491 billion estimate for FY 2012), this is inaccurate and the overall program would receive a slight cut. The budget would transfer the Senior Community Services Employment Program from the Department of Labor and move this program to AOA and flat fund it at $448 million, the same level as for FY 2012. Within the AOA accounts, most individual program lines would remain flat with the exception of Program Innovations, which would not be funded for a second consecutive year (This account formerly funded JFNA's NORCs and Family Caregiver Support) and the Alzheimer's disease demonstration grants which would increase from an estimated $4 million in FY 2012 to $9 million (but reduced from $11 million in FY 2011).   Funding for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers is $6 million lower than the FY 2012 estimate but flat funded at $10 million against the FY 2011 enacted level.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Refugee and Entrant Assistance program, which has paid to help resettle tens of thousands of Jews from the Former Soviet Union and other countries, would be increased from $704 million in FY 2011 to $805 million ($768 million estimated for FY 2012).

The flexible funding in the Department of Health and Human Services' Social Service Block Grant (SSBG) provides support for a myriad of federation programs, everything from adoption services to refugee assistance to senior transportation, would be flat at $1.7 billion, the same in FY 2011 and the budget proposal.

The full budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services would be cut from $3.467 billion in FY 2011 to $3.257 billion ($3.435 billion estimated in FY 2012). The Mental Health Block Grant, designed to improve access to community-based health care delivery systems for people with serious mental illnesses and helps fund mental health services at JFS agencies, would receive $459 million, the same funding as FY 2012 and an increase from FY 2011's $419 million. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, which funds services in JFS agencies and other federation agencies to help people remain alcohol and drug free; obtain or regain employment; stay out of the criminal justice system; find stable housing; and enter into recovery, would receive essentially the same funding as for FY 2012 of $1.8 billion (a slight increase from FY 2011's $1.782 billion), but the Administration proposes to split the funding and use 20% of this funding for a new substance abuse prevention discretionary formula grant.

The Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Income which provides monthly cash benefits as a federally guaranteed minimum income for low-income individuals who are either aged, blind or disabled, includes a program to allow refugees and asylees to receive these benefits for a total of nine years as they seek citizenship.  This program for refugees and asylees did not receive any budget allocation in FY 2011 or 2012 and it would be increased by $41 million for FY 2013.

Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a flexible funding stream to state and local governments that provides support for programs serving those with low and moderate incomes within the Jewish community, would be cut from $3.673 billion estimated for FY 2012 to $2.932 billion in FY 2013 (and $3.21 billion in FY 2011).

HUD's Section 202 Program, which pays for independent living for seniors, would receive an increase from $396 million in FY 2011 (and an estimated $375 million for FY 2012) to $473 million (but sharply reduced from $875 million in FY 2010). Under this budget, $90 million would be used for service coordinator assistance. No funding would be set aside to allow for the conversion of independent living facilities to assisted living. The budget proposal classifies this submission as "Doing more with less, the Budget proposes reforms to the Housing for the Elderly program to target resources to help those most in need, reduce the up-front cost of new awards, and better connect residents with the supportive services they need to age in place and live independently."

HUD's Section 811 Program, pays for scores of group homes for persons with disabilities within the Jewish community. It would receive a slight additional cut from an estimated $165 million in FY 2012 to $149 million (the same funding level for FY 2011 but a sharp reduction of the $300 million appropriated for FY 2010). 

Education and Job Training

The Department of Health and Human Services' Child Care Development Block Grant, which helps support low-income families' access to child care in a number of federation agencies would receive an increase from $2.223 billion in FY 2011 to $2.603 billion (and $2.278 estimate for FY 2011). These programs have collectively allowed Jewish Family Service agencies, Jewish Vocational Service agencies and JCCs to provide tens of millions of dollars of services to children, family, seniors, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable members of the Jewish and general communities.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Head Start program, which provides comprehensive development services to low-income infants and preschool children including some programs run by JCCs, received $7.559 billion in FY 2011 and would be increased to $8.054 billion ($7.969 billion estimated for FY 2012).

The Department of Education's Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, the major federal funding program for special education which is used by students in public schools and Jewish day schools, received $12.287 billion in FY 2011 and would be cut to $11.572 billion (and reduced from an estimated $11.706 billion in FY 2012). In addition, the budget provides $30 million, a $28 million increase over 2012, for PROMISE (Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI), a four agency joint pilot program, to fund and evaluate innovative approaches to improving outcomes of children receiving Supplemental Security Income and their families.

The Department of Labor's Workforce Investment Act provides formula grants for adult job training, dislocated worker job training, and youth services (including funding for summer jobs for young people) which are utilized by JVS agencies. Adult Employment and training activities would be cut to $769 million under this budget compared to $766 million in FY 2012 and an estimated $774 million in FY 2012. Dislocated Worker employment and training activities are more significantly reduced from $1.308 billion estimated for FY 2012 to $1.34 billion (an $1.279 billion in FY 2011) and Youth activities are reduced to $904 million from an estimated $906 million for FY 2012 and $946 million for FY 2011. 

Foreign Aid

The Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program enables selected friendly and allied countries to improve their ability to defend themselves by financing their acquisition of U.S. military articles, services, and training.  FMF strengthens Israel's security and ensures a "qualitative military edge" over neighboring militaries.  The full budget for FMF was $5.210 million in FY 2012, with the President requesting $5.472 billion in FY 2013, an increase of $262 million from the last budget.  Israel received $3.075 billion in FY12 and would receive flat-funding of $3.075 billion in FY13, as agreed upon in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two nations in 2007. According to media reports, the President's budget would sharply reduce funding for Israel's missile defense system including Arrow and David's Sling, both of which are jointly operated with the U.S. The President requests $99.8 million for this system compared to FY 2011 funding of $209 million and FY 2012 of $235 million. 

While not completely relevant to foreign aid for Israel, the Department of State's discretionary budget authority for a wide range of foreign aid and international assistance programs, including Foreign Military Financing, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Peace Corps among many other programs, received $50.8 billion in FY 2012 and the President has requested $51.6 billion in FY 2013.

If you have questions or comments about these budget materials, please contact Shelley Rood, JFNA's Senior Legislative Associate at 202-736-5880.
On February 7th, leadership from Jewish communities across America traveled to Washington to inform their Members of Congress about the critical work of Jewish organizations and social service agencies on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as to express how vitally important Medicaid is to people in the disability community.

The day began with a briefing from members of Congress that attracted a full room of advocates and Capitol Hill staff. In the afternoon, the advocates visited 30 Congressional offices in the House and Senate and discussed the importance of Medicaid to people with disabilities and the agencies that serve them. 

More than 8 million individuals with disabilities across the U.S. rely on Medicaid as their sole source of comprehensive health and long-term care coverage. Medicaid ensures people with disabilities have access to essential services, including transportation, medical care, and personal care assistance, which, in turn, allows them to contribute economically, socially, politically, and spiritually to their community. Unfortunately, under several prominent congressional proposals being considered as part of deficit reduction efforts, Medicaid would be restructured by capping funds flowing to states and/or creating a block grant formula. These kinds of spending cuts and harmful changes to Medicaid would limit health care opportunities for people with disabilities. Collectively, the Jewish community believes there are better ways to reform Medicaid which would improve the delivery of services and at the same time, generate savings. These include allowing funding for home- and community-based services to be accessed without a waiver, promoting preventative measures such as chronic disease management, and enrolling beneficiaries into drug and care management programs. 

During the month of February, the Jewish community observes Jewish Disability Awareness Month. This is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of individuals with disabilities in our communities and to ensure we are building more inclusive communities that celebrate all of our neighbors. February 2012 is the fourth annual Jewish Disability Awareness Month, presenting congregations and other Jewish community organizations with an opportunity to become truly welcoming. Shelly Christensen from the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis demonstrated her leadership once again in helping to inspire this advocacy day as part of Jewish Disability Advocacy Month. Please consult the Jewish Federation of North America's resource guide and the Union for Reform Judaism's Disabilities page to help recognize Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Please contact Shelley Rood, Washington Director if you have any questions.
February 9, 2012

Dear Member of Congress:

In the coming weeks, Congress will begin to craft the FY 2013 federal budget. The undersigned national Jewish organizations recognize the significant challenges facing our country and the immense pressures to reduce the deficit and national debt. Any budget you pass must be carefully calibrated to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are protected while our national interests are preserved.

The Jewish community’s commitment to ending poverty is encapsulated in the sacred teachings of the Torah, where it is commanded: “There Shall Be No Needy Among You.” (Deuteronomy 15:4). Our tradition informs us that helping fellow human beings, or tzedakah, is not simply a matter of charity, but truly one of responsibility, righteousness, and justice. These values frame our civic engagement. In response, our community has organized social service networks that offer care and support for more than one million of the most vulnerable people in our nation, Jews and non-Jews alike. We build housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities, offer vocational training to those in search of work, help resettle refugees and integrate new immigrants, feed the hungry, and provide social services for children and families who are struggling. We also have long been involved with the annual federal budget process, advocating for policies and programs that assist the most at-risk and help strengthen the foundations of our society. Accordingly, we believe that in your development of the FY 2013 budget, you should take the following principles into consideration:
  • Deficit reduction requires shared sacrifice and should be balanced, while positively influencing economic growth and job creation;
  • Spending cuts should not unfairly target the most vulnerable among us, whose lifelines are dependent on such critical assistance programs as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the Community Services Block Grant, the Older Americans Act, the Social Service Block Grant, Sections 202 and 811 housing, and the Community Development Block Grant; and
  • Robust U.S. engagement in international affairs, including strong support for Israel, should remain a critical national priority.
Major entitlement programs protect the health and economic security of our most vulnerable citizens. Within the current framework of Medicaid and Medicare, we believe that it is possible to restrain growth and rein in costs. Any reductions to Medicaid and Medicare should stem from efficiencies that improve service while reducing costs as well as targeted efforts to eradicate fraud, waste, and abuse. The United States is capable of strengthening the long-term viability of these programs without a fundamental restructuring that turns Medicaid into a block grant or Medicare into a voucher.

We know the value of philanthropy in meeting the needs of the vulnerable. Charities provide billions of dollars of vital services to low- and middle-income individuals and families and employ a significant percentage of the workforce. Further pressures on non-profits would lead to a decrease in important services on which millions of Americans rely. Any reform of the tax code should not reduce the charitable tax deduction and other giving incentives so that America’s charities can continue to provide critical social services at this time of profound and increasing need.

In addition to concerns about cuts to domestic programs, we recognize that foreign aid is an essential part of American foreign policy and national security strategy. Foreign aid is an effective way for the United States to confront numerous challenges around the globe and should be preserved. Aid plays a critical role in our national security by promoting stability, providing humanitarian assistance to impoverished people, and encouraging democratic values in the international area. By creating jobs and economic growth, U.S. aid provides an alternative to extremism and stabilizes regions of potential and current unrest.

Support for Israel is a key element of the foreign aid program and should be fully funded. Each year, the United States provides important support for Israel to ensure her security. The promotion of security in Israel and the Palestinian territories is fundamental to the peace process, and an important goal of U.S. foreign policy.

Now, more than ever, the continuing economic recovery requires a federal budget that balances long-term fiscal discipline with the need to sustain critical services and elevate human needs. On behalf of the organized Jewish community, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are pleased to work with you to craft a plan that balances the safeguarding of essential human services while undertaking necessary efforts to reduce the deficit. We urge you to pass a budget that reflects these current realities and the important work our organizations and charities do in our communities.

We look forward to working with you to shape your response to the budget proposals. For additional information, please contact Stephan Kline at The Jewish Federations of North America (Stephan.Kline@JewishFederations.org or 202/736-5864) or Elyssa Koidin at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (ekoidin@thejcpa.org or 202/212-6039).

Sincerely,
American Jewish Committee
Association of Jewish Aging Services
Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies
B’nai B’rith International
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
International Association of Jewish Vocational Services
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Jewish Federations of North America
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish War Veterans
Jewish Women International
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
National Conference on Soviet Jewry
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
Rabbinical Assembly
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Uri L’Tzedek
Women of Reform Judaism

The Jewish Federations of North America Jewish Council for Public Affairs
1720 I Street, NW, Suite 800 1775 K Street, NW, Suite 320
Washington, DC 20006 Washington, DC 20006
Phone (202) 785-5900 • Fax (202) 785-4397 Phone (202) 212-6036 • Fax (202) 212-6002
The Social Welfare History Project is a nonprofit designed with the goal of better informing the public about the rich and significant history of American social welfare. The Social Welfare History Project's website has sections detailing the contributions of social welfare pioneers, organizations, and social welfare programs. An Advisory Committee composed of distinguished social welfare historians and scholars was recruited to assist Dr. John E. Hansan, Ph.D. in designing and developing the website. The National Human Services Assembly is a supporter of the project and Irv Katz, CEO, is assisting Dr. Hansan in reaching member organizations in order to expand the depth and richness of the Social Welfare History website.

Dr. Hansan is seeking information about Jewish organizations that were in existence before or during the Progressive Era (1870 - 1920). Dr. Hansan can be reached by email.
The 2012 Presidential race will be one of critical importance to the Jewish community, with key issues including Medicare, Mideast policy and the economy, according to press experts.

In the wake of the State of the Union address, and the results of the Florida Republican primary, The Jewish Federations of North America called upon Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief at the Chicago-Sun Times and Ron Kampeas, Washington bureau chief at the JTA news service, to examine issues critical to Jewish voters in the 2012 presidential race.

Nearly 200 participants joined the call, moderated by William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of JFNA, to hear the journalists' perspectives on the Republican primaries, the Democratic campaign strategy and themes voters will hear leading up to the November election.

"What happens in the 2012 elections, both on a congressional level and the presidential level, could have a tremendous impact on where we stand as a Jewish community," said Daroff. JFNA, which represents a broad community and many viewpoints, is not a political advocacy organization and does not take partisan positions on elections.

More information about the elections teleconference as well as a full recording are available here.
AJFCA has joined 40 faith organizations in sending a letter to Congress in support of the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This landmark legislation, first enacted in 1994, brings assistance to victims of domestic violence and supports violence prevention programs across the country. Click here to read the text of the letter and please email Shelley if you would like to be involved in efforts to reauthorize VAWA.
One Year of Innovation provides a one-year assessment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Created by the Affordable Care Act, the Innovation Center has already worked to test and support innovative new health care models that can reduce costs and strengthen the quality of health care.

To download a copy of the report, click here
On January 27th each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust. This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

The day also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945. It is hoped that through remembering these events, people will remember the Holocaust and prevholocaust rememberance dayent genocide.

We also honor the victims and survivors on Yom Hashoah, on the 27th day of Nisan of the Hebrew calendar (typically during the month of April). This date coincides with the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the liberation of the concentration camps in Western Europe.   

Aryeh Sherman, CEO of Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh wrote a piece about International Holocaust Remembrance Day in his agency's January 25th e-newsletter, noting the significance of JFCS agency's regarding holocaust survivors, their clients, and our communities.

Aryeh wrote, "Sixty-seven years ago this coming Friday, the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau opened and those who survived are living memorials to those who were lost. As Elie Wiesel once said, remembering has become 'the sacred duty of all people of goodwill.'''  

Yad Vashem's invites member agencies to take an active role in the worldwide outreach efforts for the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project on this day of remembrance. Please read their January newsletter to learn more about commemoration events and the 2012 International Poster Competition-Keeping the Memory Alive.
The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) is pleased to announce the initial launch of http://medicaid.gov/, the first Federal government website devoted to the policies -- and the people -- of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This website is the culmination of efforts at the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services to revitalize and reorient the information the Federal government makes available about these programs. As part of their commitment to transparency and information sharing, Medicaid.gov brings to the forefront the items that States, the health policy community and other stakeholders have said they care about most, including: our Federal policy guidance; lists of pending and approved waivers; highlights of our Affordable Care Act implementation efforts; State-specific program information and data; and improved search capabilities.
Last week the Department of Labor reported job growth of 200,000 for December 2011. While this represents a positive direction, the number of unemployed remains at 13.1 million (8.5%), which is 6 million fewer employed than at the start of the recession in December 2007. The job market has a long way to go to reach full recovery.

Absent from the official unemployment figures are the numbers of people who cannot find full-time work (8.1 million) or who stopped looking for work (2.5 million). When including those groups, the broader "underemployment" rate was much higher: 15.2 percent. This fuller picture should be included when weighing public policy decisions pertaining to poverty, hunger, homelessness and other economic impacts facing the unemployed, underemployed, and their dependents.

Most notable, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed. These individuals are particularly at risk of economic hardships.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm)
Following talks with the German government, the Claims Conference has announced three changes to the Hardship Fund that will enable thousands of Jewish Holocaust victims to receive one-time payments. All changes are effective as of January 1, 2012.

Flight from Non-Occupied Areas

Hardship Fund payments will now be made to certain Jews who fled ahead of the advancing Nazi army from some areas of the Soviet Union that were not subsequently occupied by the Nazis.

In recent negotiations, the German government has agreed to include these Jewish victims in the Claims Conference Hardship Fund, provided they meet the program’s other eligibility criteria. The program issues a one-time payment of €2,556.

Applicants may now be eligible for a payment from the Hardship Fund if they fled between June 22, 1941 and January 27, 1944 from areas of the Soviet Union that were generally up to 100 kilometers from the most easterly advance of the German army but were not later occupied by the Nazis.

Those eligible will include Jews who fled from Moscow and Stalingrad. Eligible victims will also include those who fled from Leningrad after June 22, 1941 but before the siege of that city commenced in September 1941.

This agreement will lead to payments to Jewish victims of Nazism from the former Soviet Union now living in Israel, the United States, Germany and other Western countries. It is the first time that the experiences of these Jews who fled for their lives been recognized by Germany. These payments are not currently available to Nazi victims living in former Soviet bloc countries.

Western Persecutees

As of January 1, 2012, Hardship Fund payments may be made to eligible applicants who were citizens of certain Western European countries at the time of Nazi persecution and also at the time of that country’s Global Agreement with Germany, who have not received any previous payment from a German source which include payments under the Global Agreements. “Western Persecutees” who think they may be eligible and have not already applied to the Hardship Fund should file an application. To receive a payment, applicants must also meet the other criteria of the Hardship Fund.

Orphans

As of January 1, 2012, eligible for a one-time payment of €1,900 may be those living in former Soviet bloc countries who were born 1928 or later and were orphaned due to Nazi persecution. To be eligible, applicants may not have received any previous compensation from a German source and must meet the same criteria as that of the Hardship Fund.

Background: Hardship Fund

The Hardship Fund, established in 1980 after five years of Claims Conference negotiations, provides a one-time payment of €2,556 to certain Jewish victims of Nazism, including many from former Soviet bloc countries who emigrated to the West after 1969, which was the application deadline for the West German Indemnification Laws (BEG).

You can find the full criteria, and applications, for the Hardship Fund on the Claims Conference website.
Applications and information are also available by contacting the Claims Conference offices in New York, Tel Aviv or Frankfurt.

Hardship Fund Changes Widen One-Time Payment Criteria for Holocaust Victims, December 28, 2011, by eJP
Reflections on How Families in America Are Faring at the Close of 2011 and Where We As A Sector Should be Heading in 2012

As a sector, we seek to ensure that the people and communities we serve have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.

Yet, currently, millions of Americans - the people we serve - are struggling just to make ends meet. Over 46 million people - that's 1 in 6 - in America face poverty every day. 1 in 4 people in America can't afford to pay for healthy foods. And more than 50 million people are living without health insurance.

For this reason, the National Human Services Assembly, of which AJFCA is a member, and specifically, the National Collaboration for Families - feels that as the year draws to a close and we begin to look towards 2012, we need to reflect on how families in America are faring in the continued wake of the Great Recession and what path forward we ought to be charting in the new year.

In this spirit, over the next two weeks, NHSA will be releasing a special series of e-publications looking at the current state of America's families and what the organizations in our network can do together to leverage our collective voice and strength to turn this moment of crisis into a time of opportunity. To read more about turning crisis into opportunity, click here.
President Obama signed a Minibus package on November 18th that combined the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills. The law provides $128 billion in discretionary spending for those programs. On December 16th the House, followed by the Senate on December 17th, adopted the Megabus funding package that included $915 billion to fund the remaining 9 appropriations bills. Combined, total spending approved for FY2012 will be consistent with the $1.043 trillion cap on fiscal 2012 discretionary spending set by the debt limit deal enacted in August. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 23rd. The President is expected to sign the package into law before then.

By working directly with Capitol Hill, and in partnership with state government affairs professionals and in coalition with others, we were able to work to keep most priority programs of the federation system at or near flat funding while the government implemented austerity measures to reduce discretionary spending from $1.365 billion in FY2011. Of particular note, the Megabus included the extension of the Lautenberg Amendment to reinstate the flow of refugees to the United States from Iran.

For a brief summary of the approximate results of both the Minibus and Megabus bills, click here.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Chanukah
 
Ottawa, December 20, 2011 — “More than two thousand years ago, a small group of Jewish believers overcame the odds and courageously defeated and repelled their oppressors, liberating Jerusalem and reclaiming the Holy Temple as their own. As they rededicated the Temple, a second miracle occurred: a small amount of oil that should have lasted one night instead burned for eight. Since that time, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holy tradition of Chanukah, the yearly eight-day Festival of Light, in commemoration of those miracles.
 
“Born out of the triumph of light over darkness, of freedom over oppression and of tolerance over persecution, this celebration reminds us that miracles can occur even in the darkest of moments, and that justice must always overcome tyranny. Chanukah also reminds us that, here in Canada, we are truly blessed to live in a free, just and tolerant society, one which has been enriched by the innumerable contributions and achievements of the Jewish-Canadian community.
 
“On this first night of Chanukah, Laureen and I extend our most heartfelt greetings and wishes of hope and peace to families and friends in communities across Canada and around the world who tonight light their Chanukah menorahs.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________
Minister Kenney issues statement celebrating Chanukah
 
Ottawa, December 20, 2011 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement in celebration of Chanukah:
 
“In homes across the country, friends and families will gather together today at sundown to light candles in celebration of the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
 
“The eight-day holiday commemorates the triumph of the Maccabees in their revolt against the oppressive Seleucid Empire of Antiochus IV Epiphanes more than two thousand years ago. The Maccabees’ victory resonates today as a great triumph of religious freedom over subjugation, and – as signified by the lighting of the Menorah – of light over darkness.
 
“Chanukah is a joyous time of family gatherings, gift giving, traditional ceremonies, and the enjoyment of holiday songs, food and children’s games. For all Canadians, the holiday represents an opportunity to reflect on the exceptional contribution of the Jewish community to our country.
 
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I wish a happy Chanukah – Chanukah Sameach – to all those celebrating in Canada and around the world.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Minister Kenney also speaks at Parliament Hill’s annual Chanukah celebration organized by Chabad Lubavitch.

Children or teenagers may qualify for no-cost or low-cost health insurance coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Many parents may also be eligible.
 
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released, Insure Kids Now! a website that allows one to select a state, linking them to a page that provides information on that state's insurance program and application. Concentration is being focused on states with high rates of uninsurance for children such as Texas, California and Florida.
We have the opportunity to advise on an upcoming collaborative research project of Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California at Berkeley. The project will focus on the JFNA NORC-SSP Initiative, the New York State/City model(s), and the Village-to-Village effort. This collaborative study is expected to make available valuable information that could be shared with potential funders and public policy stakeholders at the national, state and local levels, who will soon if not already be planning or even grappling with the aging-in of the Baby Boomers. 

If you have a NORC program, please review this letter from Rob Goldberg so that we can include your community in the study. We appreciate your reply by the end of December. Thank you!
Last week, Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 1942, The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act, legislation thatseeks to strengthen existing public transit programs for older adults and people with disabilities by giving states added flexibility to utilize their federal funds. The bill also expands program transparency through new reporting standards, enhances the planning and coordination process, provides technical assistance and seed grants to innovative community programs, and establishes a mobility management program for older adults and people with disabilities. AJFCA has worked in support of this legislation and now we need your help to advance it!

It is anticipated that the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will consider a reauthorization of federal transit programs this month, possibly as early as Friday. It is critical that S. 1942 gain the support of committee members, especially Republicans, in order to have a chance of being included in the committee's reauthorization legislation. For those of you in states with Senators on the Banking Committee (listed below), your grassroots advocacy efforts are especially needed over the next several days.

Key Republican Senators: Richard Shelby (AL); Michael Crapo (ID); Bob Corker (TN); Jim DeMint (SC); David Vitter (LA); Mike Johanns (NE); Patrick Toomey (PA); Mark Steven Kirk (IL); Jerry Moran (KS) and Roger Wicker (MS).

Key Democratic Senators: Tim Johnson (SD); Jack Reed (RI); Charles Schumer (NY); Robert Menendez (NJ); Daniel Akaka (HI); Sherrod Brown (OH); Jon Tester (MT); Mark Warner (VA); Jeff Merkley (OR); Michael Bennet (CO) and Kay Hagan (NC).

Action Requested:

? Contact your Senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 1942, The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act.

    STEP 1: Call/Email the Senator's state and DC offices; ask for the staff member who handles transportation      issues. DC offices can be reached through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at  202.224.3121.
    STEP 2: Make the "ask" and offer to email them background materials on the bill for their review (see attached bill summary).
    STEP 3: Let them know exactly why you support S. 1942, The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act.

You may use this template letter as a basis for your letter to Senators.

 ? Message: "We support S. 1942, The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act. The bill provides states added flexibility under the Section 5310 program for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities to utilize funds for operating costs such as rising fuel costs. The bill expands the transparency of the Section 5310 and 5317 New Freedom programs through new reporting standards to better track how funds are used, requires states to report annually to the FTA how they plan to coordinate with transportation services offered under the Older Americans Act, and strengthens the coordinated public transit human service planning process. It directs new resources for technical assistance and grants to seed innovative community programs and establishes a mobility management program for older adults and people with disabilities. We urge Senator ______ to co-sponsor this important legislation."

? Please report to Shelley Rood any interest you receive from your Senators or their staff in co-sponsoring the bill-so that we can follow up as needed.

Background:

The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act would provide states with greater flexibility to use Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Section 5310 program funds to assist with the costs of operating vehicles, such as insurance, rising fuel costs and driver compensation. The Section 5310 program provides formula grant funds to states to help nonprofit organizations meet the transportation needs of the elderly where public transportation options are unavailable.

Public transportation trips by older and disabled non-drivers, including those under the Section 5310 program, totaled an estimated 43 million in 2009. The legislation would also expand the transparency of Section 5310 programs through new reporting standards requiring that groups representing older adults and people with disabilities are included in the planning process and be given an opportunity to review and comment on how funds would be used within a state.

Finally, the bill would direct new funding to the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST,  www.seniortransportation.net/) in order to award a larger number of community seed grants to demonstrate creative and effective solutions to increasing mobility for older adults. It would also establish a Mobility Management program, which would determine the transportation needs of consumers and connect them with the best available transportation options in their communities.

A summary of the bill follows:

Section 5310 Elderly and Disabled Program

    Authorizes states to use up to 33 percent of any increase in its annual Section 5310 allocation for operating and maintenance needs after FY 2012.
    Authorizes states to use their Section 5310 allocations to assist with the costs of operating vehicles or other capital assets acquired through the Section 5310 program at a 50 percent federal match.
    Requires states to report annually to FTA how they plan to coordinate their Section 5310 program with transportation services offered under Title III of the Older Americans Act.
    Expands the National Transit Database to require the program to track Section 5310 data on an annual basis, including the number of vehicles purchased and rides provided.

Metropolitan and Statewide Planning and Coordination

   Strengthens the coordinated public transit human service transportation planning process by requiring that groups representing older adults and people with disabilities are included in the planning process, and that these groups are given an opportunity to review and comment on the final plan.

Technical Assistance and Mobility Management

    Directs new funding ($11.5 million over two years) to the NCST to provide technical assistance to transit and human service organizations, and disseminate best practices and test innovative and replicable approaches for addressing the mobility needs of seniors.
    Establishes a supplemental FTA Mobility Management grant program ($8 million over two years) to connect older and disabled adults with the best available transportation options in their communities.
More than 16,000 Holocaust survivors who have been denied German compensation pensions will claims now be eligible to receive them as a result of Claims Conference negotiations with the German government. The agreement will result in at least $650 million in additional Claims Conference payments over the next decade.

Prior to the negotiations, certain survivors were only eligible for pensions from the Claims Conference Article 2 Fund and the Central and Eastern European Fund (CEEF) if they had been in a ghetto, in hiding, or living under false identity for at least 18 months during the Nazi era. This minimum time period of persecution was part of the eligibility criteria established by the German government, and which the Claims Conference for years has been working to change.

For more information visit the Claims Conference website
The National Human Services Assembly's Bridging the Gap Initiative is designed to ensure that front line, direct service workers know about and have access to income supports that can help them create safe, thriving homes for their families. NHSA has conducted a series of webinars for human service organizations with a goal that they will take this information to their front line staff as well as their clients and ensure they are taking advantage of these supports. This week's webinar focused on federal supports for family success. The list of programs reviewed included:

1) Energy Assistance through HEAP (Home Energy and Assistance Program), which helps low income families with the cost of heating, cooling, weatherization and home repairs;

2) Foreclosure Assistance through HAMP (Home Assistance Modification Program) and HARP (Home Assistance Refinance Program), which can help reduce mortage payments for low income families and has an easy-to-use online screening tool for eligibility;

3) Rental Assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, through which families can rent housing of their choice at a low rate; and

4) Child Care Subsidies, which provide effective care for a child while the parent is working or in school.

Learn more about the National Assembly's Bridging the Gap Initiative.
Congress is working to wrap up a number of bills before leaving for its annual holiday recess that is expected to begin December 16th or 23rd and run through January 16th.

Below are the topics the National Council on Again has been following related to older adults and the aging network:

FY12 Appropriations
December 16th is the deadline for Congress to approve an omnibus bill to fund government programs through FY12, or else extend current funding through a Continuing Resolution (CR). Before Thanksgiving, lawmakers enacted appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture and Housing & Urban Development.

Still to be decided is funding for Older Americans Act programs such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and falls prevention programs.

This fall, NCOA mobilized grassroots advocates to urge Congress to protect falls and CDSMP funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended that each receive $10 million next year. However, the House did not include this recommendation.

To get involved and learn more, click here.

As 2011 Ends, What's on Tap in Congress? NCOA, December 2, 2011
We are very pleased to announce the introduction of a new bill to improve transportation options for seniors and persons with disabilities. The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act (S. 1942) proposes the following:

  • Authorizes states to utilize a portion of this funding for operating assistance
  • Increases coordination and reportable data relating to senior transportation
  • Authorizes $11.5 million over two years to the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST), which JFNA helped create
  • Requires that older adults and people with disabilities are included in the planning process for public transportation programs
  • Provides technical assistance to transit and human services organizations
  • Supports demonstration projects for innovative ideas relating to senior transportation
  • Authorizes $8 million over two years to award grants to nonprofits to offer mobility management services. 
These are all important features that will help bring about a much better transportation system for seniors and individuals with disabilities. We have worked with partners in the transportation services sector to develop this legislation, which will help build support for the issues we will advocate for in the future highway and transit reauthorization bill.

The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act is sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, and cosponsored by Senator Ron Wyden. Here is the bill summary and text for your review.

As you may know, transportation services allow older adults to live independently longer and prevent isolation from family and community. While older adults largely utilize private cars for transportation, as they age the majority lose their physical and/or financial capacity to drive or maintain a car. Finding necessary transportation is difficult, particularly for those living in suburban communities where destinations are too far to walk; public transit is non-existent, poor, or is not integrated with adjoining communities; and private transportation, if available, is limited or prohibitively expensive. Seniors are often reluctant to rely on friends and family even for the most essential transportation needs-access to health and social services. The result is often increasing isolation and deterioration in health and quality of life. Transportation programs that provide door-to-door and curb-to-curb assistance can help seniors remain in their homes longer and maintain healthier and more independent lifestyles.

Please help bring this bill closer to action by urging your Senators to cosponsor. As always, we appreciate your prompt action in this issue which affects hundreds of Jewish agencies across the country.

For questions about this legislation, please contact Shelley Rood, AJFCA's Washington Director, at (202) 736-5880.
A Few Good Tools for eAdvocacy, November 15, 2011, Idealware, By Kyle Henri Andrei

Advocacy organizations often encourage their grassroots supporters to influence politicians and corporations using different methods, from promoting a cause or opposing legislation to challenging ad campaigns or policies. A large display of public opinion can have a powerful message, and advocacy groups often help to focus and channel this support to make the most impact.

This was traditionally done with mail. The sheer bulk of hundreds or thousands of letters was a strong visual stand-in for the people behind the cause. Today the tactic hasn't changed, but the message is more likely to be delivered by email, telephone or social media, and the physical presence of the message replaced by the easy, constant barrage of communications.

Idealware takes a look at the tools available to help advocacy groups direct grassroots communications to a target.
Poverty and employment statistics recently released draw attention to the critical importance of programs such as the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). The number of people in poverty is actually higher than previously thought, the rate of job creation remains too slow, heath care costs are rising for the poor, and food stamp participation has increased. These economic pressures have placed increased demand for critical supports and services provided by 12,500 (formerly 13,000) community-based nonprofits that are supplemented through EFSP, and are struggling to serve their communities in the face of steep cuts (40%) Congress approved with the support of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittees in FY2011. We urge Congress to return the EFSP allocation to $200 million for FY2012. Please refer to this attachment for the full statistics on poverty and unemployment.
The Senate took the lead this week towards completing the FY2012 spending bills for the fiscal year that began on October 1st. In what may be the first in a series of small spending packages, the Senate is considering a "minibus" containing the text of its Agriculture, Commerce-Justice Science and Transportation-HUD measures.

Before a final vote on this package, the Senate will need to dispense with a number of contentious amendments offered by fiscal conservatives that would either attempt to cut spending in the bill or add partisan policy riders. The amendments will likely slow the process, even though the current temporary/stop-gap spending measure (CR) Congress passed will expire on November 18th and few legislative days remain between now and then.

 It also remains to be seen how other possible minibuses will be grouped. We believe that the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill is a likely candidate for the next round, but the oft-contentious Labor-HHS-Education bill is not.

Throughout the year, we have pressed Congress and the Administration to do no harm to a number of domestic programs and initiatives that serve or support social services priorities, including those that could be negatively impacted by Federal funding cuts and tax code reforms that have been under consideration. In this regard, we have met with champions in Congress, key contacts in a number of Executive Branch agencies, and senior domestic policy officials in the White House. 
The Jewish Chaplains Memorial dedication ceremony held on Monday, October 24th represented a defining moment in our nation's history. At long last, the 14 rabbis who died in active service have been honored at Arlington National Cemetary, with their names on a monument on Chaplain's Hill.

Thank you to all AJFCA member agencies for your support of this effort, (particularly during the legislative process). Thank you to Danielle Hartman, CEO of the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service in Boca Raton, Florida, for requesting that this monument make a stop at Ruth Rales in September before it went to Arlington.
 
Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director, helped organize the event and spoke at Monday's dedication ceremony. To learn more, read the Washington Post article.
Under the Budget Control Act, Congress is charged with appointing a "Super Committee" to find $1.2 trillion in debt savings over the next 10 years. AJFCA and other Jewish organizations have weighed in with members of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee), to make sure that our priorities are known. Most importantly, as the service providers of people in need across the country, we want to stress our position that the poor and most vulnerable should not bear a disproportionate burden of the budget cuts. AJFCA has been actively participating in meetings with members of the Super Committee and their staffs and has signed on to this letter. Additionally, our partner organization, JFNA has sent a letter, as well.
The Senate leadership has rejected a proposed limitation on itemized tax deductions, including the charitable contribution deduction, as a means to help pay for the proposed jobs bill. Senate leaders rejected the administration's proposal to help pay for the cost of the $447 billion America Jobs Act by capping tax deductions and exclusions, including the charitable deduction. A Senate vote on the revised jobs bill was defeated this week. However, as Congress continues work on deficit reduction it is important to note that the limitation on itemized deductions, including the charitable contribution deduction, is still part of the Administration's formal recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23rd.
The Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service in South Palm Beach County, Florida, hosted a ceremony to commemorate the 14 Jewish chaplains who have given their lives in active service. The new memorial to fallen Jewish military chaplains was on display at Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service's Weisman Delray Community Center last Thursday, prior to its formal dedication on October 24, 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery. The program, hosted by JFS President & CEO Danielle Hartman, featured Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, Col. Rabbi Sanford Dresin, and Rabbi Howard Horowitz. 

Learn more about the campaign to erect the Jewish chaplains memorial here.
AJFCA held our annual Washington Advocacy Mission this week in conjunction with the Jewish Federations of North America's Government Affairs Institute. As part of the collaboration, the two groups strategized together on many issues of critical importance to the Jewish community in the United States and abroad. Together, we advocated on Capitol Hill for the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), and for the cosponsorship and inclusion in the OAA of a bill to assist Holocaust survivors to age in place in their communities with dignity and comfort. We advocated for the renewal of the Lautenberg Amendment to assist those persecuted in other countries as a result of their religious beliefs to obtain refugee status in the United States. The group attended meetings at the State Department, the Administration on Aging and the Administration for Children and Families, where government officials briefed participants on current government priorities in these issue areas.

Our time in Washington was highlighted by visits from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Speaking at Tuesday's lunch meeting were Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Paul Teller, the Executive Director of the House Republican Study Committee.  The speakers addressed many timely issues including the "Super Committee", Medicaid and Medicare, Developmental Disabilities and Israel.  At a Capitol Hill reception that evening jointly sponsored by JFNA and AJFCA, the featured speaker, Hannah Rosenthal, US State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, spoke to the group about her field research in anti-semitism throughout the world. In addition, many Members of Congress stopped by to address the group, including Judy Chu (D-CA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martha Fudge (D-OH), Louis Gohmert (R-TX), John Shimkus (R-IL), Robert Dold (R-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Allan West (R-FL). It was an exciting and informative few days during which collectively we made the voice of the Jewish social service movement heard in our nation's capital.
August 31, 2011 - John Baird, Foreign Affairs Minister and minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, today announced that the Government of Canada is now seeking nominations of individuals to sit on a council to support the National Holocaust Monument, which will be built in the National Capital Region.
 
This project is the result of a private member’s bill, introduced by the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Democratic Reform) and Member of Parliament for Edmonton–Sherwood Park, which was supported by all parties in the House of Commons and received Royal Assent on March 25, 2011.
 
“Canada remembers the suffering of the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust,” said Minister Baird. “This monument will not only preserve their memory but will also educate visitors of all faiths and traditions about the causes and risks of hate. Let us use the lessons of the past to remind us of the importance of tolerance, to inspire us to uphold human rights and to prevent future acts of genocide.”
 
The National Holocaust Monument Act calls for the building of a National Holocaust Monument in the National Capital Region, supported by a National Holocaust Monument Development Council. Comprised of up to five volunteer members, the Development Council will play an important role in realizing this project, particularly in spearheading a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the planning, construction and maintenance of the monument.
 
Applications for a position on the Council will be accepted between September 1 and 21, 2011. Candidates will be evaluated and selected on the basis of various criteria and with a view to creating a dynamic council that will help the government deliver on this important project.
 
For further information and to apply for a position on the Council, please visit National Holocaust Monument Call for Nominations.
 
http://www.international.gc.ca/monument/index.aspx?lang=eng
 
http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2011/251.aspx?lang=eng&view=d
Congressional recesses provide an excellent opportunity for you to visit your Members of Congress and their staffs in their home offices, reintroduce yourselves, and talk about your federation’s priorities.  Congress is expected to leave D.C. on August 8 for its “summer work period” and will be at home through Labor Day.  JFNA urges you to set up meetings with your Members now.  For scheduling purposes, Senators/Representatives can be reached in their district offices or through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.  If you are planning to engage with your elected officials during the August recess period, please click here to access a short form so Shelley Rood can best assist you!  
 
While, JFNA will likely urge support for Medicaid; the Charitable Tax Deduction; and key discretionary spending programs, the roster of suggested issues and exact messaging will need to wait until August 2 or the conclusion, one way or another, of the debt ceiling negotiations.       
 
Failure to raise that debt ceiling would lead to a default by the U.S. in the bond market.  This likely would have a catastrophic impact on the economy and be quite deleterious to Jewish agencies and the vulnerable people we serve.  Programs they depend on would not be and the costs of borrowing (for instance home loans and credit cards) would sky rocket.  The federal government has an estimated $306.7 billion in payment obligations for August alone but is only expected to take in $172.4 billion in revenue between August 3 and 31, 2011.  Failure to raise the debt ceiling means that the government cannot make payment on that $134.3 billion shortfall between payment obligations and August revenue.  In the event of the default, the government would not shut down but payments would be prioritized. 
 
While maybe attempts would be made to issue social security checks, prosecute the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and pay interest on the debt, what would be cut?  Would it be Medicaid payments to states, Medicare reimbursements for skilled nursing institutions, Older American Act transfers to states, homeland security payments to nonprofit institutions, or any of the other 80 million payments made by the federal government each month, many of which Jewish agencies depend on?  The stakes are high for the country and for all of us.  As August 2 approaches, we will all know more about the specifics on how the federal government will act in the event of a default (including any retroactive reimbursements).  JFNA will advise federations and agencies as the situation becomes clearer.  
 
If you have any questions about summer advocacy or the debt ceiling negotiations, please contact Shelley Rood.
The National Human Services Assembly  has released a brief entitled, Putting Human Needs on the National Radar Screen , detailing the framework of effective communication, the importance of framing messages in positive ways that will resonate with the audience. It enumerates specific strategies for conveying information to constituents and policymakers, changing perceptions and developing a greater appreciation of the important role of human services and community development.

Food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) make it possible for over 44 million Americans to pay for healthy groceries. And medical insurance programs, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), provide over 65 million adults and children with free or low-cost medical care.

 

To help connect more eligible working families with these programs, the National Human Services Assembly, of which AJFCA is a member, has put together a new 3-minute slideshow/PSA that can be emailed to your networks and shared with clients, employees or anyone who may benefit from knowing about them. 

July 13, 2011
 
Leaders from The Jewish Federations of North America weighed in on the ongoing budget and debt ceiling negotiations and urged the Senate Democratic Steering Committee to protect programs that support vulnerable U.S. populations and the Jewish community at large during a special meeting earlier today.
 
JFNA was invited to share its perspective on the threat of cuts to critical programs. Kathy Manning, JFNA’s chair of the board of trustees, warned the Senate Democratic Steering Committee of possible consequences from cuts in three key areas: charitable giving, the Medicaid program and the Nonprofit Homeland Security Grant Program.
 
“We must address the nation’s fiscal crisis, but as we do, we cannot turn our backs on our most vulnerable neighbors in and out of the Jewish community,” said Manning. “We can never afford to hinder programs that are especially vital for children, persons with disabilities, immigrants and senior citizens.”
 
In an effort to advocate for the Federations movement’s top priorities, Manning stressed the following points in her remarks to the Committee:
 
• Do not allow Medicaid to become a block grant program or cap its funding: Cutting Medicaid would deny health and long-term care to millions of vulnerable Americans who would find themselves without a social services safety net.
 
• Do not pass proposed limitations on charitable contribution tax deductions: The limitation would reduce the total amount of donations collected by charities and the amount of giving by top donors who help to fully support the work of Jewish Federations and other leading philanthropies by nearly $4 billion a year, according to a recent university study.
 
• Protect the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP): Changes to NSGP would undermine the funding and scope of DHS state and local grant programs, which currently help to ensure the security of the Jewish community.
 
While there are many legislative priorities for Jewish Federations, protecting the Medicaid program remains one of the most crucial. “For more than a century, Jewish Federations have served millions of Americans in need in communities across the country by supporting hospitals, facilities for the aged, and home- and community-based care services,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of JFNA.
 
“We know firsthand the critical impact of Medicaid on the delivery of basic health- and long-term care, and expect tragic consequences should this program be weakened by Congress.”
 
Manning’s remarks to the Committee also focused on broader issues that affect the most vulnerable in Jewish communities including senior transportation, the Lautenberg Amendment for religiously persecuted individuals from Iran and the former Soviet Union, the Community Services Block Grant, Autism Awareness funding and supportive services for needy Holocaust survivors.
 
The meeting was led by Chairman Mark Begich with the following U.S. Senators in attendance:
 
Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV)
Vice Chairman Daniel. K. Akaka (HI)
Carl Levin (MI)
Richard Blumenthal (CT)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Jack Reed (RI)
Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ)
Robert P. Casey (PA)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Kay Hagan (NC)
Joe Manchin (WV)
Chris Coons (DE)
Charles E. Schumer (NY)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Ben Cardin (MD)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Tom Udall (NM)
Jeff Merkley (OR)
Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
179 national organizations signed the Medicaid Roll Call ad.
Don’t jeopardize the lives of the most vulnerable by cutting Medicaid.
 
More than a quarter of all seniors and people with disabilities depend on it. Cuts could deny millions the choice to receive the services they need to live independently in their homes and communities. These cuts could cost thousands of direct-care jobs, putting a greater burden on individuals and families.
Don’t cut the lifeline to long-term services that millions of seniors and people with disabilities depend on.
Stanford Social Innovation Review
Blog : Not All Tax Deductions Are Equal: Preserve Charitable Contributions
At first blush, it seems straightforward as a way to reduce the deficit in Washington: Cut tax deductions or tax expenditures (or tax loopholes or tax earmarks, depending on how incendiary you want your language to be) by $1, and you will increase revenues by $1. But to paraphrase George Orwell: While all tax deductions reduce tax revenue equally, some tax expenditures do more than just reduce government revenue. Some tax deductions help put food in the mouths of the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless, and send deserving students to school. The charitable contribution deduction has been part of the Federal income tax code for almost 100 years, and it is vital that lawmakers continue to use tax policy to encourage charitable giving, especially during times of economic recovery.
The Administration recently proposed to limit the charitable contribution deduction for “wealthy” Americans, as part of the solution to the nation’s debt crisis. Rhetoric-laden phrases like “tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires” are increasingly common without regard for the millions of Americans and billions of people worldwide who are helped by certain charitable tax incentives. According to a recent Gallup poll, this rhetoric also blurs the issue for Americans who overwhelmingly support charitable deductions, but who may not make the connection between “closing tax loopholes” and “encouraging charitable giving.”
Regardless of how the issue is framed, the picture is not pretty for charities. Any limitation on the value of itemized tax deductions, including charitable contributions, will result in fewer dollars flowing to our nation’s charities during a time when they most need financial support. A study released by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University calculated that the impact of proposed limitations on charitable giving could result in a decrease of almost $3.9 billion in annual giving.
Limiting the value of charitable contributions is especially catastrophic to charities that operate in a “90-10” fiscal environment. Many charities, especially social welfare organizations like the Jewish Federations that serve as a vital safety net for the most vulnerable, receive more than 90 percent of their total funding from less than 10 percent of their donors. Although Jewish Federations receive hundreds of thousands of donations each year, they still must rely on the giving of top donors to fully support their work. As a result, these and other charities will be particularly vulnerable to this proposal that targets so-called “wealthy” donors.
Although most donors do not give solely because of tax advantages, it is equally true that those who make large gifts often use tax strategies to maximize the effectiveness of that gift, both in terms of timing and the size of the donation.
Another misconstrued argument raised against charitable contribution provisions is that the benefits are “upside down.” Opponents say a millionaire is able to deduct 35 cents for each contributed dollar while a bus driver can only deduct 15 cents. But in fairness, that’s simply because the millionaire is taxed at that matching higher rate as well. This twisted logic should have no bearing in this critical debate.
In times of economic recovery, politicians on both sides of the aisle would do well to remember that the charitable sector is an important engine of economic growth, as well as an indispensable safety net. It is one of fastest-growing segments of economy, contributing almost $1 trillion to the marketplace each year, and accounting for more than 5 percent of GDP, 9 percent of the country’s wages, and nearly 10 percent of jobs in America. Charities are facing devastating revenue shortages while donors cut back, endowments shrink, and government programs are pared to the bone in this new era of austerity. Now is not the time to construct artificial roadblocks to charitable giving.

William Daroff, vice president for Public Policy and director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America, is a leading advocate for the American Jewish community’s agenda in the nation’s capitol. Daroff ensures that the voice of Jewish federations is a prominent force on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch on key domestic policy issues such as Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, homeland security and policies that affect and strengthen the not-for-profit sector.
 
WASHINGTON, DC – July 11, 2011 – The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC) delivered a letter to members of the House and Senate today urging them to protect Medicaid from drastic cuts and other harmful changes to the program. The Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies was one of the 36 signatories to the letter.
 
“This is a moral issue,” said AAPD’s Director of the Interfaith Initiative and IDAC’s convener Ginny Thornburgh. “This issue has touched the hearts of people of faith from many religions. Medicaid is one of the tools that helps people with disabilities stay in their communities and continue to live as independently as possible.”
 
The letter, which was signed by 36 national organizations across the faith spectrum, states that while the coalition understands deficit reduction efforts are necessary, drastic proposed cuts to Medicaid would be devastating to the disability community.
 
According to the letter, “The shared values of our faiths lead us to support policies and programs that promote independence and dignity for people with disabilities so they can continue contributing to their communities and congregations. Medicaid is one such program…Any decisions about Medicaid funding or the structure of the program should take into consideration the ability of people with disabilities to live healthy, independent lives."
 
These 36 religious organizations oppose spending cuts and harmful changes such as the proposed block grants and global spending cap proposals "that would undermine human dignity by limiting the choices and opportunities for older adults and people with disabilities.”

The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC) is a coalition of 25 national faith-based organizations, including representatives from the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu traditions, with a mission of mobilizing the religious community to speak out and take action on disability policy issues with Congress, the President and Administration, and society at large. IDAC is a diverse, nonpartisan coalition of religious and religiously affiliated organizations whose core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
 
To view the letter, please visit www.AAPD.com. For more information about IDAC, please visit www.AAPD.com/IDAC.
 
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country's largest cross-disability membership association, organizes the disability community to be a powerful force for change – politically, economically, and socially. AAPD was founded in 1995 to help unite the diverse community of people with disabilities, including their family, friends and supporters, and to be a national voice for change in implementing the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com
Today our project reached another milestone. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved the design of the Jewish chaplains’ monument! Admiral Robinson, Ken Kraetzer and Shelley Rood presented the monument's concept and design to the commission at the National Building Museum, and with one minor change - the removal of some underlines - they voted to approve us on the spot! We are beyond thrilled.
 
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is comprised of seven of the country's most accomplished artists and architects. This link includes the names and biographies of the commissioners. Indeed, presenting to them and receiving their immediate approval was both humbling and gratifying. Huge congratulations to Admiral Robinson and his team at the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and the JCCA, and to Ken Kraetzer whose tireless devotion to this project carries it forward every day.
 
This approval follows the unanimous passage of H. R. 1627 and S. Con. Res. 4, the legislation in the House and Senate stating that this memorial should be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
We will keep you informed as this project continues to progress. Thank you for your continued support! 
Days before Memorial Day and at the conclusion of Jewish American Heritage Month, the U.S. Senate authorizes construction of Jewish Chaplains' Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery
 
WASHINGTON—Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the construction of a long-overdue memorial in Arlington National Cemetery for Jewish Chaplains who have died on the battlefield. The Senate’s authorization comes on the heels of approval by the U.S. House of Representatives and brings the memorial one step closer to construction.
 
Members of Congress heralded the Memorial’s passage:
 
“This memorial will be a fitting commemoration of thirteen chaplains who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation,” said Senator Charles Schumer who introduced the bill in the Senate. “Every day, military chaplains risk their own safety and security to provide essential support to our deployed service members. Those who have lost their lives in the line of service deserve our highest respect, and I am so pleased that we were able to pass this legislation through the Senate."
 
"Especially on this Memorial Day weekend, it is a great honor to have supported the creation of this long overdue memorial to the Jewish Chaplains who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and the troops with whom they served,” said Senator Patty Murray, who pushed forward the memorial as Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This memorial is not only a permanent testament to the bravery of those chaplains, it’s also the culmination of the work of so many in the Jewish community who rightfully fought for its place on Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery."
 
“Jewish chaplains who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms will now finally have a memorial to honor their heroics,” said Congressman Anthony Weiner, who introduced the measure in the House of Representatives. “That this legislation passed with such broad bipartisan support in time for Jewish American Heritage Month is a reflection of how important and needed this monument really is, as well as a reflection of the hard work of organizations like The Jewish Federations of North America.”
 
The Jewish Federations of North America have been working in partnership with the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) Jewish Chaplains Council of the JCC Association of America and dozens of other national and locally-based organizations, for nearly three years to establish a memorial for the 13 fallen Jewish chaplains alongside Protestant and Catholic chaplains in Arlington National Cemetery. The memorial, which has already been designed and paid for by private donations, must now be approved by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and then construction can commence.
 
“Congressional passage of this bill is an important step toward ensuring that we recognize the heroic sacrifices of the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died serving our country, and whose names deserve to be memorialized in our national resting place,” said Cheryl Fishbein, Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America Domestic Affairs Cabinet.
 
The memorial not only gained Congressional approval during Jewish American Heritage Month and on the eve of Memorial Day, but comes as we mark the 150-year anniversary of Jewish chaplains in the armed forces. Officials plan to hold a ceremony this fall to unveil the memorial on Chaplains Hill in our national resting place.
 
“With Congressional approval, we are eager to begin construction of the memorial to these fallen heroes and look forward to visiting Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery in the near future to pay tribute to them and their contributions to our nation’s history,” said William Daroff, the Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America.
 
Jewish American Heritage Month Happy Jewish American Heritage Month! President Barack Obama has proclaimed Jewish American Heritage Month for May 2011. I call your attention to the portion of the text which honors the bravery and contributions of Jewish soldiers and chaplains. Many of our member agencies have signed letters and contacted representatives in support of the chaplains memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. This advocacy has helped raise awareness to the point of getting text in the Presidential Proclamation honoring the bravery and contributions of Jewish soldiers and chaplains. To read the full text of the Presidential Proclamation, click here

To help celebrate JAHM, please visit the JAHM Website This Website offers a community calendar of events, ready-made curriculum, downloadable posters, fun facts, and ideas for programs. You can also download the JAHM logo from the Website and attach it to your previously-scheduled May events as a way to co-brand with JAHM. If you have any questions or would like to list your event on the community calendar, please contact Abby Schwartz, the National Coordinator, at aschwartz@jewishamericanheritagemonth.us
Led by our colleagues at HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, many Jewish organizations were instrumental in ensuring that an extension of the Lautenberg Amendment was included in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1473), signed into law on April 18th by President Obama. The Lautenberg Amendment, which facilitates the processing for U.S. refugee status for Jews and other historically persecuted religious minorities from Iran and the former Soviet Union (FSU), expired on October 1, 2010. It was attached to the CR through the efforts of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

The Lautenberg Amendment, as included in the Continuing Resolution, will only be extended to June 1, 2011; this will allow applications filed since Oct. 1, 2010 to be considered retroactively. New applications will also be considered only until June 1, 2011. According to Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS: "It is extremely important that our former HIAS clients waste no time in notifying relatives in the FSU or Iran of this temporary extension of the Lautenberg Amendment. Anyone eligible for the refugee program who is considering leaving their homeland for the U.S. must complete and submit refugee applications without delay."

Although efforts will be made to extend further the Lautenberg Amendment, there are no guarantees. Therefore, eligible refugees should act swiftly as there is the possibility this could be the final opportunity.
Action: Please reach out to your Senators and Representatives and let them know that while Medicaid needs reform, transforming the program into a block grant would jeopardize access to needed services for millions of vulnerable Americans.

Background

Medicaid - the joint federal/state program that pays for medical assistance and long-term care for low-income and elderly Americans - is the principal source of health and long-term services for more than 50 million children, adults with disabilities, and Older Americans. This program extends the opportunity encompassed in the American dream to millions for whom disability and illness would otherwise present an insurmountable barrier. Under several prominent congressional proposals in both chambers, Medicaid would be restructured by capping funds flowing to states and creating a block grant formula. Block granting Medicaid would result in the denial of health and long-term care to millions of vulnerable Americans.

Consequences to States

Under a block grant, costs and liabilities would shift to the states and previously covered populations would be turned away from vital services. Non-profit providers of care would be unable to bridge the large gaps in coverage created by the block grant. Cuts in Medicaid funding would result in massive job losses to healthcare and social service workers, deepening the unemployment crisis and straining other support programs such as unemployment compensation and food stamps. A block grant would likely result in an unfavorable reimbursement formula for states where inflationary adjustments for their Medicaid programs would be far below the national level of healthcare inflation.

Consequences to Medicaid Recipients & Their Families

Many populations who currently qualify for Medicaid could end up uninsured, including populations that states are currently required to cover such as poor children, pregnant women, and those with disabilities who are in the workforce. A sharp decrease in Medicaid spending would also result in cuts to home and community-based long-term care. The loss of services could make individuals more dependent on the unpaid support of family caregivers or it could lead to unnecessary institutionalizations with care paid by Medicaid.

Effective Ways to Reform Medicaid & Realize Cost Savings

Curb Regulatory Restrictions on Medicaid Flexibility: Balance institutional care so that funding for home and community-based services can be accessed without a waiver. Though skilled nursing facilities will remain vital as providers of care given the cognitive and physical disabilities of certain older adults, care within the community should be maximized to the greatest extent possible, something that is both cost-effective and assures enhanced quality of life.

Promote Telemedicine and Greater Efficiency in the Provision of Care: Though requiring an initial investment in technology, long-term savings will be realized as patients are matched up more efficiently with providers, particularly in the use of specialists, in rural, suburban, and urban areas.

Root out Waste, Fraud and Abuse: Analyze every service provided by Medicaid. Strengthen penalties against unethical providers who have taken advantage of state Medicaid programs.

Bring stakeholders to the table to work out cuts: For instance, at the beginning of 2011 Governor Andrew Cuomo assembled a Medicaid Redesign Taskforce for the State of New York that included state officials, consumers, and providers. Charged with putting together a consensus list of cuts that totaled approximately $2 billion, the collaborative looked at existing programs in the state that consumed a disproportionate share of Medicaid dollars and agreed to targeted cuts. The federal Medicaid law could require the convening of these stakeholder task forces.

For further information, please contact Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director at (202) 736-5880 or shelley.rood@jewishfederations.org or Jonathan Westin, Jewish Federations of North America Health Policy Director at (202) 736 -5860 or jonathan.westin@jewishfederations.org