By: Joanie Cox-Henry Contributing Writer
The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Zinman Hall was packed Oct. 2 with concerned citizens and state and federal lawmakers. Sinai Residences, along with LeadingAge Florida, Jew-ish Family Services, the Jewish Federation and Life Care Services put together the event for sen-iors’ voices to be heard regarding the issues that matter most to them.
Rep. Tina Polsky, Rep. Mike Caruso, Sen. Lori Berman, Congresswoman Lois Frankel and Con-gressman Ted Deutch participated in a panel discussion that also included Dan Liftman, Special Assistant to Congressman Alcee L. Hastings and Tomas Alcala, Legislative Aide to State Sena-tor Bobby Powell.
Healthcare, the cost of prescription drugs, affordable senior housing and poverty were among the top issues affecting seniors up for discussion.
“In Florida, we don’t fund programs for seniors very well,” Berman said. “Many seniors have a fear of outliving their money.”
Polsky agreed that the plight for affordable housing for seniors in Florida must improve. “Palm Beach County is desperate for affordable housing,” Polsky said. “Through the Sadowski Fund for building affordable housing, when someone purchases real estate, money goes to the state but we’re not getting this money back and we have to continue to fight for affordable housing. Eve-ry year, it’s a battle.”
Riesha Levy, who lives at Sinai Residences, considers herself one of the very fortunate seniors who hasn’t had residential concerns. “Attending this Town Hall was important to me as a 94 year old,” said Levy, who is a retired psychiatric social worker. “The concerns about Medicare and the high cost of drugs are topics many seniors are talking about.”
Larry Feldman, who is chair designate on the Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors, was eager to the attend the event. “As an American who grew up in the projects, every American should be responsible for each other. It’s not about being a democrat or republican. It’s about being an American.”
Matthew C. Levin, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County was proud to host and co-sponsor the town hall event. “Our Federation is continually engaged in advocacy for our seniors,” Levin said in a press release. “This was a great opportunity for local seniors to learn and be heard on issues of interest and concern, and to get to know their state and federal elected officials.”
Other hot button topics effecting seniors that hit the panel included immigration law and the sal-aries of home health care workers. While Frankel argued home healthcare workers should be paid more, Deutch emphasized the impact Washington’s immigration laws could have on some care-givers remaining in Florida. “The decisions made in Washington on immigration have a huge im-pact on caregivers,” Deutch said. “The other care group we don’t acknowledge nearly enough are the family members who are caregivers. We must have more family caregiver support services available in this community.”