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Shelley Rood

AJFCA Washington Director

                         Thursday, July 5, 2012 

Colleagues, this has been a heavy few weeks on the legislative and public affairs front. Please review this newsletter in its entirety and contact Shelley Rood with any questions. Thanks!

Holocaust Survivor Bill Introduced in the Senate - Action Alert
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.

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
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.


Administration for Community Living (ACL) Details Emerge

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.

JFCS Engages Washington Officials on Health and Long-Term Care Agenda

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.

FARM Bill Preserves Strong SNAP Structure; Makes Unnecessary and Harmful Cut to Benefits
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.

AJFCA Advocates for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization

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.

Jewish Institutions Awarded $9.7 Million in Nonprofit Security Grants

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.

Senate Passes Resolution Calling for Olympics to Recognize the 40th Anniversary of the Munich Tragedy

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.

Federal Grant Opportunity
The Administration for Community Living's (ACL) Administration on Aging (AoA)

Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Program

Deadline:  July 31st
  Purpose: For states and tribes to test ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  This initiative helps to implement the Elder Justice Act, which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act. The agency will award five to eight cooperative agreements ranging from $625,000 - $1,020,000 each for a three-year period to test elder abuse prevention interventions.  
Eligibility: State governments. However JFNA learned from ACL/AoA that it is expected that the state would be partnering with other groups (both at the state and local level) that would be an active participant in implementing the selected intervention. ACL/AoA has been encouraging groups like ours to make contact with the state government entities that you have relationships or whichever agency you believe is well-suited for this opportunity, to discuss the funding opportunity and to encourage your application.