Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with cosponsors Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), have introduced a bill that would ensure that Holocaust survivors can better access needed services, such as health care and nutrition services, without having to live in a nursing or assisted living facility. S. 3358, the ‘‘Responding to Urgent Needs of Survivors of the Holocaust Act’’ or the ‘‘RUSH Act’’ will amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to provide needed protections for survivors of the Holocaust who managed to make it to the United States after years of prolonged terror, abuse, and desperation.
“We have an obligation to provide aging Americans access to the services that they need — and the community support they deserve — in a setting that is not mentally or physically exhausting or traumatizing. Holocaust survivors fled to our country because of persecution for who they were. These great Americans deserve our attention and our efforts to ensure that they are more able to age in place,” said Senator Cardin. “By focusing on home and community-based long-term care, we can help ensure that fewer of these survivors are dependent on the unpaid support of family caregivers, or have to resort to unnecessary institutionalization.”
“We are joined in support for the growing population of aging Holocaust survivors in the United States,” a Kirk spokesperson said. “This bipartisan legislation addresses the unique challenges facing the nearly 130,000 survivors who reside both at home and at long-term care facilities by ensuring their special needs are recognized.”
“I believe that ‘Honor Thy Father and Mother’ is a good commandment to live by and a good policy to govern by. More than 60 years later, Holocaust survivors who fled to the United States after experiencing incomprehensible and indescribable atrocities continue to age. We must honor them – not just with words, but with deeds,” Senator Mikulski said. “This legislation follows through on our commitment to these survivors by ensuring that the services and community-based care they need are available to help them live more independent and active lives.”
As of 2010, there were approximately 127,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States, and more than three quarters of them are older than age 75, with a majority in their 80s and 90s. Under the current language, S. 3358 would amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to establish preference with attention to Americans who are Holocaust survivors, authorize the Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Community Living to have responsibility for such individuals, and create a grant program to increase and improve transportation services for older Americans, with preference for Holocaust survivors. In addition, the bill would modify the OAA home delivered nutrition services provisions to ensure that Americans with religious, ethnic and dietary food restrictions receive the proper meals. It would also authorize delivery services to serve as early warning for homebound seniors that may need extended medical care or be suffering abuse.