Legislation would help care for Holocaust survivors

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JTA – Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives July 30 that will prioritize health care and nutrition services for Holocaust survivors.

The bill, the Trauma-Informed Modernization of Eldercare for Holocaust Survivors Act or “TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act,” was introduced earlier in July in the Senate. It increases the chances that survivors could age in their own homes.

It was introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is Jewish, and Reps. Donna Shalala, D-Fla. and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

The bill incorporates several provisions into the Older Americans Act to ensure that Holocaust survivors have care and services.

“My district has among the largest populations of survivors in the country. The trauma and grief that these survivors endured is unimaginable. The TIME for Holocaust Survivors Act can tend to that unique pain in this closing chapter of their lives,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

The Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

“Holocaust survivors came to the United States seeking refuge from unimaginable horrors. They have lived their lives here and enriched our nation. With an average age of 85, we have an obligation to provide Holocaust survivors the community support and special services they need to live out their final days,” Cardin said in a statement at the time.

More than 300 national, state and local organizations – most Jewish organizations including Jewish federations, Holocaust education organizations and synagogues – signed a letter of support for the Senate legislation

There are about 80,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States, with one-third of them living at or below the poverty line. Aging Holocaust survivors have needs similar to other older Americans, but institutionalized settings, with confined spaces or restrictions on food, can induce panic, anxiety and trauma due to their Holocaust experiences, the bill notes.