Health Care, Medicare and Social Security Reform
Healthy aging begins long before advanced age sets in. Lifelong access to quality, affordable health care is crucial to ensure a healthy older population. Because of the major role B’nai B’rith plays in protecting and advocating for seniors, health care reform has been a prime agenda item. A noted journalist in the Jewish press said B’nai B’rith played the leading role among Jewish organizations in working for passage of the Affordable Care Act. With the Supreme Court having affirmed the constitutionality of much of the act, we continue to work on its successful and effective implementation.
This year, we also fought to preserve expansions of Medicare preventive benefits and battled reductions in prescription drug costs that could have severely impacted seniors. Mindful that so many seniors rely on Social Security as their only source of income, we worked to defend the American Social Security system from cuts for current and future beneficiaries.
The lack of an adequate supply of safe, affordable housing for low-income seniors is a serious problem in the United States. As the largest Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors in the country and a recognized expert on affordable housing for seniors, we continue to speak out against the drastically low appropriations for HUD-assisted senior housing. Our voice also helped avert an even worse cut for housing in a program that already has thousands of people on a waiting list for each apartment available. The B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Network provides a home for more than 8,000 seniors of limited income around the United States without regard to race, national origin or religion. We also boast additional facilities in five countries around the world.
B’nai B’rith has 42 buildings in our senior housing network in 26 different communities. The latest to open: the Glen East II in Dothan, Ala.
Last June, the Annual B’nai B’rith Housing Management Professionals/Service Coordinators met for three days of training in Savannah, Ga. In September, residents and managers from B’nai B’rith housing from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. for an annual conference where they shared best practices. They also heard from industry experts on aging and housing, gaining ideas for making the B’nai B’rith senior housing facilities the best they can be.
On a regular basis, we provide training programs, conferences and consultative services to the members of the individual property’s board of directors, management professionals and even residents.
Housing residents are busy in their buildings and outside in their communities.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the Gerd & Inge Strauss B'nai B'rith Manor on Pantano in Tucson, Ariz., celebrated with a feast of traditional Irish food including corned beef and cabbage. The celebration included good neighbor awards, volunteer thank you cards, a performance by the Strauss Manor Choir and a display of festive scarves made by the Strauss Manor Knitting and Crochet class, which makes scarves for the homeless.
In May, Goldberg B'nai B'rith Towers I & II in Houston were featured in the Jewish Herald Voice for an award-winning weekly glass class. Residents rave that it has brought them new happiness and self-confidence.
Over the summer, campers from B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp visited the Martin D. Popky B'nai B'rith Apartments in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. While there, the kids joined the residents for a few rounds of bingo, while enjoying friendly conversation and lunch together.
Given our long-standing partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), spanning some four decades, B’nai B’rith has periodically worked with federal agencies to strengthen and improve the base housing programs for low-income seniors. This past year, as federal assistance to these programs continued to decline, B’nai B’rith provided testimony to HUD regarding its latest reform proposals to the Section 202 senior housing programs which, if enacted, would radically impact future housing development. Through our ongoing involvement with the Washington, D.C.-based Elderly Housing Coalition, we continue to monitor such proposals and work to ensure that the negative impact on future development is minimal.
B'nai B'rith International, 2020 K St. NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20006
B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization. Since 1843, B’nai B’rith International has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity and tolerance. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.