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Shelley Rood

AJFCA Washington Director

                        Wednesday, December 12, 2012 


Action Alert
Please contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to preserve
SNAP (food stamps) funding
and pass the Violence Against Women Act to include ALL victims of domestic violence.
For additional background, please contact Shelley
Food Stamp Families Fear Possible 'Fiscal Cliff' Cuts
Food Stamp Families Fear Possible 'Fiscal Cliff' Cuts, December 10, 2012, Chicago Tribune, by Lolly Bowean
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.
Senate Democrat Says She Will Consider Higher Food Stamp Program Cuts To Get Farm Bill Passed
Senate Democrat Says She Will Consider Higher Food Stamp Program Cuts To Get Farm Bill Passed, December 5, 2012, Associated Press
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.
Violence Against Women Act: John Boehner, Eric Cantor Pressured By Republicans To Act
Violence Against Women Act: John Boehner, Eric Cantor Pressured By Republicans To Act, December 11, 2012, Huffington Post, by Jennifer Bendery
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.
AJFCA Signs on to Medicaid Letter to Congress
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. 
GAO Hits Medicaid on Waste
GAO Hits Medicaid on Waste, Politico, December 11, 2012, by Jennifer Haberkorn
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
AJFCA Supports Senate Letter to Protect Needs of Children in Fiscal Cliff Debate
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.
Fiscal Cliff Debate Threatens Senior Services
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.  
2013 Government Affairs Institute & AJFCA Advocacy Mission
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.

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. Learn more here.