As Baby Boomers rush headlong into elderhood and access Medicare services, there arrived in the past few days a small flurry of articles and such on the issue. These are very important for us. Medicare and Medicaid, I fear, will become a political issue again as November draws near and the deficit expands. This is, as we tell every congregation, a major social justice issue for our generation and for our children, who may be forced to pay for care for us.
So, it was interesting to see a few days ago (January 25) an article in the Washington Post that headlined “Senators Challenge Assisted Living Industry Over Wandering Deaths, Poor Care.”. It is a rather lengthy article detailing a day of testimony before the Senate Committee on Aging on the Assisted Living industry. It is an industry that is not federally regulated, rather, it seems, things vary state to state. Like women’s rights issue, ones’ health may be a factor of where you live. The testimony seemed to open the door to the possibility of some sort of national regulatory push. However, the reality of today’s Congress also, it was pointed out, makes this a longshot.
In New Jersey, however, we saw in December of 2023, Governor Murphy signing into law AB 5225 which allows for the Palliative Care services benefits to impact quality of life for Medicaid beneficiaries and their caregivers. New Jersey joins a small list of states that have recognized the value of Palliative Care and again, making access easier. The support for family caregivers is also very important and this issue is also one that will confront an increasing number of families.
Finally, just this week many received notice from the National Council on Aging that discussions are scheduled now in Congress to include funding in Medicare for low-income elders “that can help them afford Medicare”. It will be interesting to see where that goes given the climate in D.C.
The access and cost issues keep being a major topic in so many of the Jewish Sacred Aging workshops. As we get older, and as so many of us need cart, the need to create a family care plan is becoming more real.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.