Let Congress know what Medicaid means to us

Let Congress know what Medicaid means to us

With the passage of health reform legislation, one of the few remaining issues regarding health and long-term care for Congress is central to the mission of our federations and their partnership agencies: ensuring that New Jersey’s Medicaid program remains resilient. This is particularly important during today’s serious economic downturn.

The Medicaid program represents the most important government program for Jewish-run social service agencies. It is an income-eligible program for the neediest in our communities and is funded through a federal/state partnership. Medicaid pays for care in your community’s nursing homes (remember, Jewish-Americans are the fastest aging demographic in North America) as well as family service agencies, which provide care to children, families, people with disabilities, and older adults.

New Jersey’s Medicaid program has fallen victim to a vast array of budget cuts, reducing services to those who are in need of them. Medicaid enrollment increases when the economy declines. This requires states and localities to spend more money at a time when they have less revenue and strained budgets.

In NJ, 65 cents of every Medicaid dollar comes from the federal government. Unless Congress intervenes, at year’s end New Jersey will take at least a 15 percent cut in Medicaid funding (the state usually receives just 50 cents on each dollar). The state will not be able to afford to make up the difference and, frankly, neither will your federation or its agencies.

Local Jewish agencies have suffered as a result of these cuts. Thus, it is vital that volunteer leaders within our Jewish community reach out to officials at all levels to ensure that this key funding stream is protected. If not, our community will be unable to carry out its overall mission without cutting eligibility or services to those who are most in need of them.

Congress is considering legislation — The American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 — which calls for an extension of these enhanced funds through June 30, 2011. This continuance will be essential for Medicaid providers as states weather these difficult fiscal times.

The Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ can advise you on how you can best help regarding outreach. Advocacy action alerts from the Jewish Federations of North America, all localized for New Jersey, include innovative ways that you can reach out to your elected officials as well as other community leaders to ensure the success of these two vital programs.

Our community needs to show leadership on these issues. In the past, we has made such a profound impact on issues concerning Israel and Soviet Jewry, and we’ve helped raise awareness about abuses even in remote regions such as Darfur. Medicaid funds are pivotal to the work we do here at home.

For information on how to take action in support of Medicaid, contact crc@ujcnj.org or 973-929-3087.

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