National Council on Aging (NCOA) Call-In Day to protect Medicaid on June 14th & Wisconsin Call-In Day June 15th!

From: Janet Zander, Advocacy & Public Policy Coordinator, Greater WI Agency on Aging Resources, Inc.

Despite earlier reports of U.S. Senators having difficulty getting agreement on their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our national advocacy partners are telling us the U.S. Senate is now preparing to fast-track their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implemented a rule allowing the House-passed AHCA to bypass committee discussion and go directly on to the Senate calendar for a vote once the Senate’s revised version is complete.  The latest reports indicate the Senate bill is nearing completion and will soon be sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for evaluation which is expected to take approximately two weeks.  Details of the plan are not expected to be released to the public during this time. The U.S. Senate is hoping to vote on their draft healthcare bill before Congress recesses for the July 4th holiday.


Though specific details of the Senate version of the AHCA are not available, we are hearing the Senate intends to keep 80% of the House plan, including substantial cuts to Medicaid.

The CBO evaluation of the House-passed AHCA indicated the proposal would make massive cuts in Medicaid ($834 billion) and cover 14 million fewer people.  The AHCA shifts Medicaid from a federal/state funding partnership to a per capita or block grant structure with capped payments to states and a 25% cut in funding over 10 years. The President’s FY 2018 budget proposes to cut an additional $610 billion from Medicaid benefits creating a combined cut of over $1.4 trillion (45%) over the next 10 years. The impact of these devastating cuts threatens Medicaid programs in Wisconsin such as SeniorCare, Family Care, and IRIS and could result in changes in eligibility and covered services, cuts in service or the reinstatement of waiting lists and/or reductions in provider rates further harming Wisconsin’s long-term care service providers and the people they support.  For more information see the revised Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network ACA/AHCA Update attached.

Medicaid is the primary payer for long-term services and supports. Approximately two-thirds of Medicaid funding in Wisconsin and nationally is used to provide needed services and supports to low-income older adults and people with disabilities. Contact Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson to let them know the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is not good for Wisconsin and ask them to vote NO on the AHCA that cuts Medicaid. 

Below are two options for making calls to Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators. 

1.) The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is offering a toll-free number to connect you with Senators Baldwin and Johnson on Wednesday, June 14th.   See details listed in email  #1 below. 

2.) The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is promoting a Wisconsin Call-In Day on Thursday, June 15th. Additional information, phone numbers and a link to Medicaid enrollment data by Wisconsin Congressional district can be found in email #2 below.

Please choose one of these options/dates and make your calls before it is too late!


Email #1:

Senate Republicans are trying to fast-track a health care repeal bill that would devastate Medicaid, which 6.9 million seniors rely on.

Medicaid pays for over 60% of the nation’s long-term care costs, and the bill would result in large cuts to optional home and community-based services that help keep people independent and out of institutions.

Call your Senators on Wednesday, June 14 and tell them to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.

Last month, the House passed a bill that would cut Medicaid by nearly $800 billion and cap payments to states. The Senate is now looking to keep 80% of the House plan, including the Medicaid provisions.

Protect Medicaid! Join us on Wednesday, June 14. Tell your Senators to vote NO on Medicaid cuts and caps: 1-866-426-2631.
Your voice can make a difference!

 Howard Bedlin, Vice President, Public Policy & Advocacy 
© 2017 National Council on Aging, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. May not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organizations, or corporations other than NCOA, its affiliates, divisions, and units without the prior written permission of an authorized officer of NCOA. For permission, please contact


NCOA | 251 18th Street South | Suite 500 | Arlington, VA 22202


Email #2:

Members of the U.S. Senate are working behind closed doors on their own version of American Health Care Act (AHCA).   The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on the AHCA within the next two weeks. There is a lot at stake for Wisconsin in this vote. The AHCA cuts federal Medicaid funding by 25% over 10 years and eliminates key health care protections for children and adults with disabilitiesEstimates indicate Wisconsin could lose $1 billion in funding and put many essential programs and supports for children/adults with disabilities and seniors at risk.


There have been no public hearings held on these major proposed changes. Join us on June 15 to let the Senate know that Wisconsinites don’t support the AHCA.  

These significant cuts to Medicaid mean cuts to Wisconsin programs like Family Care, IRIS, the Children’s waiver, BadgerCare, mental health programs like CCS, Katie Beckett, autism services, therapies like OT, PT and Speech, personal care, supports provided in schools and even Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Many of these are “optional services” in Medicaid and are at significant risk of being cut or eliminated.


The Senate is also debating:

  • Even bigger cuts to Medicaid
  • Weakening protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  • Allowing states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drug coverage.


On June 15, join us in doing these four things:

  1. Call Senators Ron Johnson (202-224-5323) and Tammy Baldwin (202-224-5653) and Ask them to vote NO on the American Health Care act because it:
  2. Includes devastating cuts to Medicaid that will mean cuts to Wisconsin programs that children and adults with disabilities need.
  3. Weakens protections for people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions by allowing states to charge them more for health care.
  4. Allows states to stop providing Essential Health Benefits like habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices; mental health services and prescription drugs
  5. Is being debated behind closed doors with no public input.


  1. Call Governor Walker: 608-266-1212 and tell him the AHCA will hurt Wisconsinites.


  1. Call your local radio/TV stations and ask to be interviewed about how the health care reform bill hurts children and adults with disabilities.


  1. Tell two of your friends what cuts to Medicaid would mean for you and your family. Ask them to call their two U.S. Senators!

Information on Medicaid enrollment in your Congressional District can be found here:

Refugee Resettlement Update from Rabbi Renee Bauer – 6/9/17

Immigration and Faith panel at the Carnegie Corporation of New York: Pastor Rich Nathan, Reverend Jennifer Butler and Rabbi Renee Bauer (Father James Martin not photographed here).

As I looked out the taxi window and saw the Welcome to New York City sign, I had a clear sense of my purpose the next day. I was bringing to the halls of power the message of the refugees we were settling, the DACA students we have assisted and the many immigrants who have been clients of JSS. How profound that my grandparents arrived in this city and saw some version of the welcome sign as refugees themselves. I was here now because they were welcomed then.

I had the privilege to speak on June 1 at the quarterly board meeting of the Carnegie Corporation of New York on a panel about faith and immigration. I brought stories of the families we have resettled here in Madison and the bridges we are building between faith communities as we do this work. In our next email update we will share a podcast that the Carnegie produced of the panel participants.

As I was making the presentation in New York, volunteers were working hard here in Madison to prepare the permanent apartment of our newest refugee family. The family of a single mother and three young children had arrived to the country in mid-May and had been living in temporary housing. This family is beginning to settle now into their new home. Meanwhile our refugee staff members and volunteers are preparing to welcome the next family to arrive. Our first Iraqi family will arrive on June 20 which is World Refugee Day.

The UN declared June 20 World Refugee Day in 2001 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It has become a day to celebrate and honor the vast contributions that refugees make. It is also an opportunity to rally increased welcome and support for refugees.

In preparation for World Refugee Day JSS is joining the Stand With Refugee Campaign from June 12-16 to call lawmakers and send a powerful message: We welcome refugees. The goal of the week is to flood the switchboard of Congress with messages that citizens across the country believe in the United States remaining a welcoming country. We ask you to participate:
  • Call 1-844-4STAND5 (1-844-478-2635) during this week, and we’ll connect you directly to your representative and senators. And then email Rabbi Renee Bauer at JSS to let her know you made the call.
  • Text “STAND” to 313131 to receive a reminder about the campaign.
  • Encourage your family, friends and co-workers from around the country to do the same.
  • To learn more, see or email

Volunteer Opportunity with Seniors!

We are looking for volunteers to help with packing, shopping for a car and moving a couch.

We have a client who needs to buy a new car, something inexpensive and efficient and we are looking for someone who knows cars to help with this process.

In addition, we need lots of help packing, and also help moving a couch.

If you are able to help, please contact Maya Garbuz

Be sure to keep checking our blog for further Volunteer Opportunity Updates!

Volunteer Opportunities for Refugee Resettlement

We are pleased to announce that we have set the dates and times for refugee resettlement volunteer orientations for the rest of the summer. Please do your best to come to one of them if you didn’t make either of the first two in April. As of September 1, all resettlement volunteers will need to have attended an orientation. We want to give everyone ample options to get to one. These will be held at our office at 6434 Enterprise Lane and snacks will be provided. Here are the upcoming dates:
  • Volunteer orientations: 
    –         May 22nd, 9:30am – 11:30am
    –         June 22nd, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
    –         July 19th, 9:30am – 11:30am
    –         August 21st, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
    All of these will take place in the JSS conference room and snacks will be provided.
    RSVP to Becca
  • Donate to the newly arrived families. See this link for current needs: can also use this link to donate toward helping pay two months of rent for each family. The JSS team and board have decided that we want to raise these funds to help the families a bit longer while they get acclimated.As part of this, we plan to cover two months rent for each refugee family that we resettle. The donations that we receive from the community will help us to reach our goals.
  • Advocate for Refugees by calling your senators and representatives to show your support for the federal refugee program. See details here “How to Stand Up and Fight Back for Refugees”.

An Update from the JSS Refugee Resettlement Team – 5/12/17

“It is not up to you to complete the task but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirke Avot 2:21).

Rabbi Bauer, Bob Skloot and Cynthia Hirsch meet with Congressman Marc Pocan

This has been a week of swirling national news that moves so quickly and makes change seems beyond our control. Despite the changing headlines the JSS refugee resettlement team continues to stay focused on the project of welcoming new families to our community while advocating for our country to keep our borders open. We write you this update as an antidote to the helplessness that can arise from the current events of the day.

1.  JSS Case workers Rihab Taha and Becca Schwartz are working hard with volunteers to prepare for the next family who will arrive next week. This Congolese family is made up of a mother and three children. Plans are being made to give extra support to this single mother. If you speak Swahili and would be able to volunteer with JSS, please contact Rihab.

2. As new families arrive our original families are feeling more settled in Madison. The three first families have been here more than 90 days. Ninety days marks a shift in the official status of the resettlement effort as it means that the initial period of Resettlement and Placement is complete. In the first 90 days the State Department dictates several core services that the resettlement agency (JSS) must provide to the new families. These include setting up health assessments, enrolling adult family members in ESL classes and children in school, a cultural orientation to life in the U.S., an introduction to public transportation and much more. Although families have some more grounding in the US and most have jobs after 90 days they still need a lot of support. As we have always done with our clients, JSS continues to serve families after the initial 90 day period. We have committed to work with the families we resettle until they are independent and thriving in our community and that does not dramatically change after the initial resettlement period.
3. Earlier this week Rabbi Bauer spoke at Holy Wisdom Monastery on a panel about the intersection of spirituality and politics, sharing the work that JSS is doing as we live up to our tradition of welcoming the stranger.
4. On Wednesday Rabbi Bauer and two JSS volunteers, Bob Skloot, and Cynthia Hirsch, met with Congressman Marc Pocan. We shared the details of our local resettlement efforts and ask for his help and advice on advocating for the continuation of the refugee program in the 2018 budget. We will be asking you in early June to join us in a national effort to bombard congress with phone calls advocating for refugees. Please watch for updates.

A Celebration of Janice Beers

By Steven H. Morrison
Executive Director Emeritus

Perhaps the greatest joy and most professionally fulfilling work during the years I served as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Madison and Jewish Social Services was leading our Jewish community’s efforts to resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union starting in 1989. Janice Beers began volunteering for us that year as part of that program.

Subsequently, JSS hired her as the Resettlement Secretary in 1990 for a temporary summer position. After two years of temporary work, the position became permanent. Janice strove to become fluent in Russian and learn the professional skills of social services, both of which she mastered. By 1993, Janice became the director of the refugee program.  Over the years, she resettled over 350 refugees. The program boasted 100% employment for all working-age refugees!

Janice was one of the very first Russian medical interpreters to provide services to the community and the first to complete the “Bridging the Gap” training.

In the early 2000’s, as the refugee resettlement program was slowly ending, Janice recognized the need for low-cost immigration legal services in our community.  She independently researched and discovered the opportunity for JSS to become a United States Board of Immigration Appeals recognized agency and for herself to become a BIA Accredited Representative. In 2005, Janice took the initiative to turn that dream into a reality.  For the past 12 years, JSS was the first BIA Recognized agency and Janice the first  BIA Accredited Representative and for a decade the only agency and representative in Dane County.

In 2008, Janice led the way for JSS to become CLINIC’s (Catholic Immigration Network, Inc.) first non-Catholic subscriber agency.  In 2009, she was a founding member of the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) and  served on the Board for four years.  In 2012, Janice became a member of the Madison Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Leadership Committee and continues to be a member of the local Immigration  Advocate Coalition. In addition to providing direct services to clients, she provides community education presentations on a monthly basis.  In 2013, Janice wrote a Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan that was awarded by CLINIC.  In 2015, she secured funding from Dane County for JSS’ Immigration Program, which provides both legal and social services to clients. This was the first significant funding JSS had ever received from the County. The county funds helped JSS expand its program by hiring a bilingual assistant. That funding is now in its third year.

Over the twenty-seven years she has been part of Jewish Social Services of Madison (including a two-year stint as the JSS Volunteer Coordinator), Janice has touched the lives of some 1,800 immigrants from over 80 countries as well as the hundreds of volunteers and others throughout the community with whom she worked.

Jewish teaching could not be more specific with respect to the treatment of immigrant: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Leviticus 19:33-34], a principle that is referenced or repeated thirty-five times in Torah, the most of any mitzvah.

Janice Beers has been the living embodiment of this historic value and as she now moves to the Catholic Multicultural Center to continue her life-saving and enhancing work on behalf of immigrants, I invite all in our community to join with me in extending our appreciation, admiration, and affection.


Latest Volunteer Opportunities!

Here are some volunteer opportunities working with older adults that JSS really needs right now:

  • Small plumbing task (taking a nozzle off the bath tub)
  • Someone tax-savvy to help with some tax questions and direct the senior on where to get help with taxes
  • Working with a senior on planning, cooking and organizing meals, so that all she needs is to microwave them when she needs to eat.
  • Taking a senior to a bookstore

Keep an eye out, there will be more coming soon!

An Afghani Father Reunites with His Daughter Here in Madison – 4/21/17

JSS Resettlement Team and Volunteers and Family Help to Resettle

We hope all of you in the Jewish community had a joyful Passover. The holiday of Passover is over but the journey to freedom has just begun. Passover celebrates the liberation from Egypt but it is during the current period on the Jewish calendar, the 49 days between Passover and the holiday of Shavuot, that we recount our people’s long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Similarly, we know that as we welcome refugees to our community that their journey to safety and security does not end when they arrive in the United States. They have a long journey to establish a life here in their new country and JSS walks the road to independence with them each step of the way.
We began the journey with a new family this week. On Wednesday evening our JSS resettlement team greeted an Afghani family of four as they stepped off the bus in Madison. This is the first family we are resettling that has family here in the US. Watching the grown daughter reunite with her father and his family was heartwarming. This family arrived on a Special Immigrant Visa which means they have helped the US military in Afghanistan and are under threat in their country because of this service. Legally this family is in a different category than other refugees, but also are leaving their country because of imminent danger. Once here, they will also need to learn English, find jobs and acculturate to this country.
This Passover we retold the story of our people’s escape from oppression and now we count the days of their journey through the wilderness. We are commanded to tell the Passover story as if Exodus happened to us in our own day. How better can we do this than by helping to assure that those fleeing war in other countries are welcomed into our country. We urge you to continue to advocate for and support the refugees coming to Madison.
Thank you for all your support.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Renee Bauer and Dawn Berney




(Thank you all all of the participants at our Volunteer Orientation. Here are some of them.)

Action Items:

  • Volunteer orientations: We have two volunteer orientations for current and interested volunteers. The first was today and we had over twenty volunteers. The second is on Monday, April 24th at the Sequoya Library, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Please email Becca Schwartz  if you are interested.
  • Donate to the newly arrived families. See this link for current needs: can also use this link to donate toward helping pay two months of rent for each family. The JSS team and board have decided that we want to raise these funds to help the families a bit longer while they are acclimated. The donations that we receive from the community will help us to reach our goals.
  • Advocate for Refugees by calling your senators and representatives to show your support for the federal refugee program. See details here “How to Stand Up and Fight Back for Refugees”.
  • March for Refugees: May 1st is International Worker’s Day which is an historic day to respect the contributions of workers, organize in support of workers’ rights, and demonstrate solidarity with immigrants. This May 1st, there are marches and rallies around the country to resist President Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim policies. Locally there are actions in Madison and Milwaukee:
    • MADISON MAY DAY RALLY: Day Without Immigrants and Refugees Monday, May 1 at Brittingham Park 11:00 am.
    • STATEWIDE RALLY: Day without Latinos, Immigrants & Refugees. Monday, May 1, 12:00-3:00 PM in Milwaukee. Please go to for details

Passover Update from Refugee Resettlement at JSS – 4/7/17

Last week I attended the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Convention in Portland, Oregon. At the end one of my colleagues closed the gathering with a prayer. He recited the words from Rabbi Shelia Peltz Weinberg’s adaptation of the traditional Jewish Traveler’s Prayer which begins:

A prayer for the journey
We could say it every day
When we first leave the soft warmth of our beds
And don’t know for sure if we’ll return at night.
When we get in the trains, planes and automobiles
And put our lives in the hands of many strangers
Or when we leave our homes for a day, a week, a month or more –
Will we return to a peaceful home? Untouched by fire, flood or crime?
How will our travels change us?
What gives us the courage to go through the door?

As I heard these words, tears welled up in my eyes. They were not tears for myself and my journey but were for the refugee families I have been working with at JSS. These families will not return to a peaceful home untouched by fire, flood or crime. They will likely never return home as their homes have been ravaged by war. I wondered, with deep admiration, what courage they must have had not only to flee their homeland but also to travel halfway around the world to begin a new life. For them, their travel will change them and their lives more than would ever choose to be changed. I, at that moment, understood my deep privilege of being able to leave and return home. I recognized the freedom I have to choose when and if I travel.

On Monday night Jews will celebrate our freedom as we begin the holiday of Passover. Passover celebrates our ancestors’ journey from persecution to freedom. This year when we open the Haggadah, let us think about the refugees who have joined our community this year and have just recently completed their own Exodus. The Haggadah reminds us that freedom is not simple and does not always taste as sweet as the harosset on the seder plate. The Israelites, we are told, complained to God and Moses as they wandered through the desert and some of them expressed their yearning to return to Egypt. The Israelites’ freedom was paired with responsibility. The people are given 10 commandments and a law code of how to live as a community. So too, the refugee families JSS serves miss their families and their homeland and they struggle in different ways to hold all the responsibilities that come with creating independent lives in their new country.
As we celebrate Passover this week, may we awaken to freedoms we have that we often take for granted. And may we empathize with the complexities of the journey that our new families have made and continue to make as they rebuild their lives.
Hag Pesach Sameach,
Rabbi Renee Bauer
Action Items: 

  • Lift up refugees at your own seder using the 2017 HIAS Haggadah Supplement
  • Click here to learn about what help is needed to help the refugee families already here and the one coming very soon. Or please contact Becca or Paul.
  • US senators and representatives will be in Wisconsin for the two-week spring recess beginning on April 10. We will have a meeting with representatives from Senator Baldwin’s office but have been denied a meeting with Senator Johnson. Please call Senator Johnson to request your own meeting and let him know about your concern and care for refugees while he is home. We are also setting up a meeting with Representative Pocan and contacting House Speaker Ryan to discuss our concerns. Please call your representatives in the next two weeks to let them know you want our country to continue to welcome refugees from all countries.
  • Community Events: JSS leaders will speaking on issues of refugees and immigration at the following upcoming community events:

    Immigration Round Table: April 30, 2017, 2-4 pm, First Congregational UCC, Baraboo

    Sacred Citizenship: The Connection between Politics and Spirituality May 9 5:15-7:30 PM, Holy Wisdom Monastery

    Methodist Federation for Social Action Annual Conference, June 16

Donation needed:
A shopping carts a family can take on the sidewalk/bus for grocery shopping. Please contact Sherie Sondel if you are able to donate such a cart.

Volunteer help needed:
  • We need volunteers to help with office work for our resettlement program. We are a variety of different needs. Contact Paul Borowsky if you can help.
  • We are in the process of planning a really fun fundraiser event. If you want to help with the planning, contact Leora Saposnik, our event chairperson.
Advocate for refugees:
Call your legislators and let them know that you support refugee program and oppose the executive orders banning refugees. Go to  for information of how to advocate.

Volunteer Opportunities: Refugee Resettlement Program

Many people have been asking, “How can I  help?” We’ve put together a list of opportunities that will really have a significant impact on the lives of our new community members. Please take a look and contact Becca or Paul if you can help us.

We have four families in Madison already, and it now looks like there will be more on the way.With the newest executive order on hold, the State Department is actually picking up the pace of moving refugees to the United States. We need your help to be ready.

Transportation Management Volunteer Lead – help schedule rides and lessons about biking, bussing and walking in Madison


Housing Volunteer Lead – help to find affordable, safe apartments with access to public transportation and services


Employment/Education Volunteer Lead – help our families to find appropriate employment and education for long-term success


Please don’t forget that we still need you to advocate for refugees:

Call your legislators and let them know that you support refugee program and oppose the executive orders banning refugees. Go to  for information of how to advocate.

Thank you to everyone working with JSS and the new families and for making them feel welcome.