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Shelley Rood

AJFCA Washington Director

                           Tuesday, March 20, 2012 

Action Alert:  Senate Reauthorizes Vital Transportation Programs for Seniors and People with Disabilities                                 

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.  

A Jewish Vision for a Just Farm Bill

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.

CMS Awards $75 Million to Test New Mental-Health Benefits in Medicaid

March 13, 2012, The Hill, by Sam Baker  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.

Sign Letter to Support WIC

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.