Jewish Federations Scramble To Save Funding as Obamacare Goes Into Effect

$7.5B Health Programs at Stake for Agencies

By Nathan Guttman

Published June 26, 2013, issue of June 28, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

During the run-up to the health care law’s passage, the Jewish federation system chose to sit out the fierce debate that accompanied its passage during President Obama’s first term. The silence reflected conflicting pressures on a system. It is a system that, on one hand, provides health care needs to hundreds of thousands — mainly the elderly and mentally ill — in the Jewish community and elsewhere; but, on the other hand, it is dependent on donations from wealthy business owners, many of whom opposed the proposed law. As a result, the federation leadership during this period conveyed the message to its activists that health care reform had become “too political,” as one communal activist described it, and therefore should be left alone.

Now, however, following the defeat of legal challenges to the law, federations are seeking a seat at the table in order to influence the law’s practical aspects. “Now that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld and is going to be implemented, we need to understand what it means and how it affects our constituencies,” said Sandy Teplitzky, a federation lay leader from Baltimore who co-chaired JFNA’s recent meeting on the issue.

Some Jewish organizational leaders defended the Jewish community’s inaction during the legislation’s earlier stages.

“On this issue, it was wise to remain active listeners to the dialogue,” Lederman said.

Joining the process at the post-legislative stage does not seem to have cost JFNA any access to the decision making process. The group has, in recent months, been in dialogue with the administration over the law’s implementation. JFNA officials were even invited recently to a White House meeting to discuss ways to engage communal organizations in promoting participation in the plan. A JFNA representative was also included on a special administration commission that will soon begin working on long-term care.

“I think their input would be welcome even though they were not supportive of the plan during the earlier discussion,” said one activist, who was critical of the group’s reluctance to engage earlier.

For each federation and the agencies it supports, the Affordable Care Act, with its thousands of pages of legislation and numerous rules, represents a practical challenge.

One concern is the plan to cut in half extra funding provided for hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low-income patients, a category that includes many Jewish hospitals. Obamacare is intended to decrease significantly the number of uninsured Americans, thus reducing the number of patients unable to pay their hospital bills. But JFNA and federation activists have argued that the cut in extra funding for these hospitals should come only after the number of uninsured patients is actually decreased, not before.

Another key issue for Jewish health care providers is funding for long-term mental health care, which has not yet been brought to the reimbursement level of other health care services.

“Everything will start rolling out in 2014, and we want the rules to be out by October so people will know what choices they have,” said Julie Kass, a member of the JFNA’s long-term care committee and a lawyer representing health care providers. “You need to get them to write these regulations. Don’t let those final rules just hang there.” Kass urged the community to take action and actively lobby Congress and the administration on this issue.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.