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Groups Lobby for Medicaid

June 22, 2011
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Representatives of several local Jewish agencies and the Catholic Health Care Services last week lobbied in Washington, D.C., against a proposed plan to overhaul Medicaid. The group also pushed for a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the major federal funding source for assisting seniors.

Participants said that by lobbying as an interfaith group, they made a statement that proposed changes -- including introducing a bloc grant format to the Medicaid funding formula -- could chip away at the social safety net of all seniors, regardless of background.

"We are concerned about precipitous cuts and using a hatchet instead of a scalpel," said Stuart Skinner, CEO of Catholic Health Care Services. He added that while he has joined with Jewish groups to lobby in Harrisburg, this was a first in the nation's capital.

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled a plan to overhaul Medicaid that he says would help drive down the deficit and reduce waste in the system.

The Philadelphia group -- which was not connected to a national mission -- included representatives of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia and JEVS Human Services.

Some Jewish health care institutions depend on Medicaid reimbursements. For example, the Abramson Center for Jewish Life receives $18.5 million in Medicaid funding annually, according to Brian Gralnick, director of Federation's Center for Social Responsibility, a lead organizer of the mission.

The group met with staff members for Pennsylvania's two senators and several local House members. They also met directly with two freshman lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-District 7) and U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-District 8).

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