Yesterday morning, a small delegation of Federation and partner agency leadership traveled to Salem to meet with Governor Kitzhaber. We are all aware of the challenging times facing our state and the fact the legislative session will soon come to a close. As our meeting time with the Governor approached, we watched as the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties exited from the conference room. It was obvious that difficult conversations were conducted. We then had 20 minutes with the Governor and a member of his staff to raise several key issues with him, understanding that immediately following our meeting, the Governor had a press conference to talk about the current legislative session.
The first issue discussed with the Governor was in regard to Iran divestment. Federation's Community Relations Committee (CRC) has been working hard to encourage the Oregon Investment Council to divest from energy companies operating in Iran. Despite the support of State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who has praised the CRC for its efforts, the bill failed to get out of the House Revenue Committee because of concerns about costs. To date, twenty-three states have policies in regard to this issue and we hope that Oregon will join this group. The Governor made a commitment to look further into the issue and we, at Federation, will continue to explore ways to get a bill passed in next February’s legislative session.
Secondly, the issue of senior care was discussed. The focus today was not on Medicaid reimbursement rates (more on that later); instead, the need to provide more in-home support services for the elderly. This is an area Cedar Sinai Park and Jewish Family and Child Service are focused on (and both received Community Impact Grants towards this initiative). Governor Kitzhaber expressed his support for these efforts and shared an illustrative story about an elderly woman who lives alone in a unairconditioned apartment. When the temperature rises during the summer, the elderly woman cannot handle the heat and calls 911. An ambulance comes to her home and rushes her to the hospital where a series of medical tests are performed. This could cost thousands of dollars – while in reality, for $200 a window air-conditioning unit could be installed in her home. His point was very well taken as “preventive care” and in-home supports can go a long way in helping reduce health care costs.
Finally, I am pleased to tell you, although this is not final, the legislature has decided not to cut the Medicaid reimbursement rate for nursing homes for the first year of the 2011-2013 biennium. If the budget passes, this will mean the Robison Home will escape a $400,000 cut this upcoming year (what happens next year is still a question). Thank you to those of you who called and wrote letters to our legislators sharing your concerns.
Federation’s Community Relations Committee is the lead connector to our legislators. Oftentimes, quiet, behind–the-scenes meetings take place to discuss issues impacting both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. We feel it is important that the Jewish community weigh-in on key issues, whether local,
I am delighted the Governor made time in his very busy schedule to meet with us, especially as the legislative session comes to a close. He heard the issues we presented and I am confident we will continue to dialogue with the Governor throughout his term in office on many more.
On a separate note, last week we shared with the community those projects that received the $300,000 for our Community Impact Grants. Many people requested to see all 64 proposals we received to get a better understanding of the ideas presented. I am pleased to share summaries for each proposal with you. Feel free to share any of your thoughts or feedback.
I hope you are enjoying the start of summer – it sure is nice to see the sun out.