Each week, as I sit to write my “Marc’s Remarks,” I try to develop ideas and topics that are both thoughtful and provocative. This week, however, we have a serious challenge on our hands and our Jewish community needs to ACT NOW!
The economic recession has hurt Oregon as hard as any other state. Our unemployment rate still sits above 10%, home values continue to fall, and the State of Oregon is facing significant budget reductions in the year ahead.
Last month, Governor Kitzhaber announced his budget plans for Oregon. In his proposed budget he announced a draconian 19% cut in Medicaid rates for nursing homes and a 16% cut in home and community-based services for the first year of the coming biennium (and who knows what will happen in year two). If enacted, the governor’s proposals would seriously impact the funding and structure of services for the elderly and the disabled. Much of what I am sharing today has already gone out to our community (the Jewish Review wrote about this in its last issue), but I felt it critical for me to share directly with you how you can help.
These proposed cuts will have a significant impact on our Jewish community. At the Robison Jewish Health Center, Medicaid-eligible patients have 70% of their costs covered. To make up the gap in the cost of care, Cedar Sinai Park, the Jewish Federation, and community philanthropy must provide $1.5 million each year. If the governor’s proposed budget goes through with a 19% cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates, it would add an additional $800,000 to that deficit. This will create an enormous challenge!
The Jewish Federation and Cedar Sinai Park are working hand in hand to confront this issue. Federation’s Community Relations/Allocations Director Bob Horenstein and Cedar Sinai Park CEO David Fuks met with legislators on March 14 for Interfaith Advocacy Day, sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation, and again this past Wednesday to discuss the seriousness of the cuts. Next week is even more critical because the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee will announce their budget, which will largely shape the debate for the rest of the session.
For more information about the situation, please contact Federation’s Community Relations/Allocations Director, Bob Horenstein at 503-245-6496 or visit: http://cedarsinaipark.org/seniors-need-your-help/
It is critical that TODAY you reach out to the Joint Ways and Means Co-Chairs as well as the members of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services and tell them that the cuts are simply too great—we should not balance the state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.
To make this as simple as possible, the following are the names (click on the name and it will allow you to send an email directly) and phone numbers for each legislator.
Subcommittee on Human Services:
Senator Alan Bates (co-chair) 503-986-1703
Rep. Tim Freeman (co-chair) 503-986-1402
Rep. Tina Kotek (co-chair) 503-986-1444
Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson 503-986-1725
Senator Jackie Winters 503-986-1710
Rep. Mitch Greenlick 503-986-1433
Rep. Kim Thatcher 503-986-1425
Also, the Robison Home is in House District 36 and Senate District 18:
Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most pre-eminent rabbis and theologians of the 20th century, insisted that our faith be linked to the struggle for social justice in America. That struggle is upon us to make sure the necessary resources are there for the elders in our community.
JOIN ME NOW in contacting our legislators and letting them know that our seniors (Jewish and non-Jewish) deserve better! Please do not delete this email until you have helped do you part by either sending emails or making phone calls to our legislators. The 10 minutes it will take to fight for the care and dignity of our beloved parents and grandparents is time well spent.
Now that you have done your part, have a wonderful Shabbat Shalom,
PS -- We have all been watching the growing tensions in Israel. First, we are seeing large numbers of rockets fired from Gaza into the southern area of Israel. And then, Wednesday morning, we awoke to the news of a detonated bomb killing one and injuring dozens of others outside the central bus station in Jerusalem. Let us hope for a renewed sense of quiet.