WASHINGTON (JTA) — The economic stimulus bill enacted by President Obama will provide $1 billion to Jewish nursing homes and social service agencies, according to the United Jewish Communities.
The funds come from the $87 billion that the legislation allots for state Medicaid programs as a result of an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP. An increase in FMAP was a top priority for UJC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and other Jewish groups that lobbied for passage of the $787 billion bill signed Tuesday by Obama.
The federation system receives about 1.4 percent of total Medicaid funds, so it will get more than $1 billion of the $87 billion provided in the stimulus package.
Jewish groups advocated for a variety of forms of assistance to vulnerable populations that ended up in the final version of the legislation.
"By ensuring that people get the assistance the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will offer, we’re doing a tremendous service by helping the most vulnerable and looking out for their general well-being,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the JCPA.
William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of United Jewish Communities’ Washington office, said the demand for social services has increased as the recession has worsened, and the supply of resources to fund those services "has been taxed to the limit."
"The legislation signed into law today by President Obama will hopefully not only shorten the duration of the economic recession, but will also blunt its impact on those who have been devastatingly impacted by providing needed funds to social service agencies,” he said.
The Orthodox Union did not take a position on the bill but congratulated the president and Congress for its enactment and said "like all Americans, we hope and pray it will indeed spark an American economic recovery."
O.U. public policy director Nathan Diament praised the legislation for its allocation of millions of dollars to fund educational services and students with disabilities — which are provided to private as well as public schools. But he noted "our continuing disappointment" that religious and other non-public schools were excluded from receiving money for the "green" school modernization program outlined in the legislation.