The Strategic Health Resource Center (SHRC) just released its annual report for 2021, which highlights major accomplishments in three significant realms: promoting innovation in the Medicaid and Medicare arenas, developing public-private partnerships between the federal government and the insurance industry, and sponsoring a month of programs to advocate for crucial issues on behalf of people with disabilities. Also highlighted in the report is SHRC’s vital role in helping to secure $175 billion in Provider Relief Funds since the onset of the pandemic.
Jewish Federations are known for fostering flourishing Jewish communities across North America, in part by supporting the health and welfare of Jewish children and adults at every stage of life. However, the majority of the vulnerable who are served by many Federation-supported partner agencies are not Jewish. Federations serve all those in need, including people with disabilities, older adults, acute care patients, consumers of behavioral health care, and other vulnerable Americans. This underscores that while Federations are faith-sponsored, we care about our respective communities as a whole.
In a signal achievement last year, SHRC advocated successfully for Medicare to continue to cover a wide range of physical and behavioral healthcare through telehealth (both video-enabled and audio-only) throughout the pandemic, with mental health and substance use care to continue to be available remotely beyond the public health emergency. This will continue to benefit older adults and many people with disabilities, including infirm Holocaust survivors.
SHRC is the national chair of the Partnership for Medicaid, a non-partisan, nationwide coalition of organizations that raised awareness on all levels of government about the crucial importance of the health care program that serves more than 75 million low-income Americans, who comprise twenty percent of the entire population. (While landmark improvements to the Medicaid program were included in the Build Back Better legislation that passed the House of Representatives, the package was not approved by the Senate.)
SHRC is also spurring the growth of public-private partnerships between the federal government and the insurance industry. The SHRC continues to advocate for a number of Medicaid-related priorities, including investing in home and community-based services, increasing access to community mental health services, and permanently authorizing the Money Follows the Person Program (enabling more people with disabilities to remain in their homes rather than in institutions).
In addition to working to protect and innovate the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers more than nine million uninsured children who are above Medicaid eligibility limits, the SHRC continues to advocate for a major overhaul of the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI), which provides a sub-poverty minimum level of income to almost ten million older adults and people with disabilities who are unable to work.
Finally, SHRC expanded Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD), which educates Congress on crucial issues of importance to all those with disabilities, to an entire month. Over the course of that February, there were ten featured events, including appearances by renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman (who contracted polio at the age of four) and from nine members of Congress, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the Majority Leader of the House. The virtual programs were attended by more than 2,300 people from all over the world and were promoted by a total of 180 Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofits nationwide.
As the report shows, the SHRC is playing an increasingly pivotal role in strengthening our nation’s social safety net for generations to come.