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LSA Washington – June 15, 2010

A regular publication from the LSA Public Policy Office

Action Needed: Call Your Senators Today in Support of Critical Funding

Debate continues this week in the Senate on the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, legislation which contains several provisions critical to Lutheran Services in America and LSA member organizations. The passage of the bill is still uncertain, and calls are needed to all Senate offices to encourage Congress to provide key funding to support health and human services as well as umemployed individuals and their families. To contact your Senators, please call 1-888-340-6521. A script for calls to your Senators can be found here, along with other ideas for action on this legislation.

Provisions which LSA is advocating support for in the Senate bill include:

  • A six-month extension of the enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate as established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). An enhanced rate was established to provide assistance to states as they struggle to provide funding for key state services, including health and human services. As of April 29, 2010, the 30 states that have assumed the six-month extension of the ARRA FMAP in their FY2011 budgets are; AL, AK, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MD, MI, MN, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, SD, UT, VT and WA. Failure to pass an extension would mean even deeper cuts to state budgets – and to health and human services programs – than originally expected. Click here and scroll to page 8 to see how much each state would be expected to receive if the extension is passed.
  • Funding for the National Housing Trust Fund of $1 billion, plus $65 million for project-based vouchers to be used in conjunction with housing preserved or created through the trust fund. LSA joined with over 2200 national, state and local organizations on a letter urging Congress to approve this funding; the letter was delivered to all Congressional offices.
  • The reinstatement of the IRA charitable rollover tax provision, which would allow individuals aged 70 1/2 and older to donate up to $100,000 per year from their individual retirement accounts (IRA) or Roth IRAs to charitable organizations without it counting as taxable income. More information on the IRA charitable rollover can be found here.
  • Relief for organizations with defined benefit pension plans. Several LSA member organizations have had their defined benefit pension plans greatly impacted by the economic downturn. The impact has been a large financial burden at a time when state funding and individual giving is also down. More information on this provision can be found here.
  • An extension of unemployment insurance (UI) and COBRA benefits through the end of 2010. The House did include an extension of UI benefits through November 30, 2010, but,  because the Senate did not act before they left for Memorial Day recess, these benefits expired on June 1. Subsidized COBRA coverage (at a rate of 65% of the cost) also expired on June 1. A 2009 study by Families USA showed that "(w)ith the 65 percent subsidy, COBRA coverage cost, on average, an estimated $389 a month for a family in 2009. Without the subsidy, the cost to an unemployed family would skyrocket to $1,111 a month ... Without the subsidy, COBRA coverage would consume 83.4 percent of an American family’s monthly unemployment check, on average."
  • An extension of the TANF Emergency Fund through September 30, 2011. The fund is currently being used by 33 states to provide cash assistance to families as well as create as many as 180,000 jobs. More information on the TANF Emergency Fund and its impact can be found here.

For more information, please contact Lisa Hassenstab via e-mail or at 202-626-7932.

HHS to Host Webcast on New Home Visitation Programs

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued an invitation for a Webinar on Thursday, June 17, from 2:00-3:00 PM ET, on a funding opportunity for the new home visitaiton program created as a part of the new health care reform law:

"Please join the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for a webinar on the first Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the new Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Affordable Care Act or ACA). The Program is administered by HRSA in collaboration with ACF and will promote healthy child development and improved maternal and child health outcomes.

An opportunity will be provided for participants to submit questions that will be answered in writing to all participants as soon as possible after the Webinar has concluded.

You can register for this event at Scroll down and click on the “Register for this event” link to complete the technical check successfully.

Please register at least one day prior to the event, as the live Webcast requires that your computer have both Java and RealPlayer installed on your system. During registration, the technical check will advise you if you need to install either of these to join the webcast.

Save the Date: Celebrate Medicaid's 45th Birthday, July 30!

LSA and LSA Disability Network (LSA-DN) members have been working hard to advocate for Congress to extend the enhanced federal Medicaid match through the end of June 2011.  Building on this advcocacy, LSA-DN wants to take a moment to reflect on the impact of Medicaid's support for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Join the LSA Disability Network on July 30 to celebrate Medicaid's 45th birthday by highlighting community living successes supported by Medicaid and talk about ways to strengthen Medicaid further. Check out next week for details and materials such as ideas for birthday events and sample fliers, letters to the editor and church bulletin notices.  For more information or to join the birthday party, email Meg Cooch or call 202-626-7949.

United We Serve "Let's Move, Let's Read" Campaign Kicks Off

The Corporation for National and Community Service last week kicked off their summer service campaign, "United We Serve: Let's Read. Let's Move." The campaign is focused on engaging school-aged children in physical activity and summer reading through opportunities provided by community partners across the country. Information on the campaign can be found at, including toolkits and an opportunity to post your organization's events to gain more volunteers and participants.

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