• Strong Families, Strong Kids

    Keeping kids in stable and familiar environments is key to their well-being and helping them grow-up to be successful adults and reach their dreams.

    Right now, child welfare funding limits states’ investment in prevention services to help keep kids safe and supported at home with their parents or other family members. The money is mostly available for keeping kids in foster care – but cannot be used for services that would prevent kids from entering foster care in the first place.

    That’s why Sen. Wyden is introducing the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act. This bill, which is supported by a wide group of child welfare advocates, pediatricians and state officials, will expand the types of services available to help keep kids in a safe and stable environment whether that’s at home or with another family member.

    These services, for example, could help a single mother find child care for her overnight work shifts or afford a washer and dryer to remedy neglect charges stemming from her children going to school in dirty clothes.

    And, for kids who do need to enter foster care, the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act would allow existing federal dollars to pay for services and supports to ensure they are safely reunified with their family or a relative caregiver

    See below for what experts and kids’ advocates are saying about the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act.

    American Bar Association

    We commend Senator Wyden and the Committee and are strongly supportive of its effort to advance meaningful legislation to address the desirability of allowing children to remain in their homes with their families.

    -Thomas M. Susman (Director, Governmental Affairs Office)

    Children’s Defense Fund

    The draft bill includes a number of components CDF (Children’s Defense Fund) believes are critically important to improving outcomes for children who are at risk of entering foster care, are currently in foster care, or at risk of re-entering care by ensuring the provision of quality services to children and families.

    Your draft bill takes a giant step forward by investing in family services to better meet the needs of children who are at risk of entering foster care but could be maintained safely with their families, help children in foster care connect more quickly to permanent families and prevent children who move to permanent families from re-entering foster care.

    -MaryLee Allen (Policy Director) and Stefanie Sprow (Senior Policy Associate)

    American Psychological Association

    The American Psychological Association (APA) is pleased to support your bill to amend Title IV parts B and E of the Social Security Act regarding children at risk of foster care placement.

    We sincerely thank you for your efforts to widen the array of services available to families and to minimize the need for out-of-home placements.

    -Judith Glassgold (Associate Executive Director, Government Relations)

    First Focus: Campaign for Children

    The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds your leadership in proposing new investments in a range of evidence-based and evidence informed and promising prevention and family services to help keep children and families together and out of the foster care system.

    Generations United

    We applaud Senator Wyden’s effort to find ways to better prevent children from entering the child welfare system by providing preventative service to help children remain with safe and stable families who love them whether that is with their birth parents or an appropriate relative.

    -Donna M. Butts (Executive Director)

    National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators

    We appreciate the attention you have given to better aligning federal financing with our collective desire to keep children with families.

    Our members applaud your leadership in taking this bold step for greater investments in prevention and early intervention services that keep children safely with their families.

    -Tracy Wareing Evans (Executive Director of American Public Human Services Association) and Julie Krow (President of national Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators)

    National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

    We commend Senator Wyden for developing a well-thought-out proposal that recognizes the need to rebalance this nation’s federal child welfare finance system and improve supports for services that can strengthen families and allow more children to stay safely at home or be successfully reunified with their families.

    Senator Wyden’s proposal breaks down these barriers and provides a framework for ending the cycle of over-reliance on out-of-home services and bringing greater resources and accessibility to services that can help children retain their family and community connections.

    National Center for State Courts

    We are very encouraged by the draft legislation as it recognizes the need to invest in prevention and family services to help keep children safe and supported at home with their parents or other family
    -Kay Farley (Executive Director, Government Relations Office)

    Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

    We applaud this step, which we believe will enable child welfare agencies and courts to better address the challenges families often face in supporting their young children in the midst of great stress.

    Voice for Adoption

    Your proposal takes a significant and needed stride toward better meeting the needs of children who are at risk of entering or re-entering foster care, by providing services to safely keep children connected to their families of origin or to help move children in foster care to permanent families swiftly.

    Child Welfare League of America

    This legislation is significant and historic because it recognizes the need for greater federal investment in services that can strengthen families and sustain positive outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children.  This bill addresses, for the first time, the need to support families that have been reunified and advances post-adoption and kinship support services.

    - John Sciamanna (Government Affairs)

  • Getting Medicare and Medicaid to 100 years

    Today is Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary.

    It’s the 50th anniversary of the start of high-quality health care being affordable for all Americans, of making sure our seniors weren’t living in poverty and of health care being accessible to our nation’s most vulnerable. More than 100 million Americans have access to high-quality health care because of Medicare and/or Medicaid.

    And I’m pushing for Medicare and Medicaid to be at the forefront of health care innovation to make sure that the 100th anniversary of these irreplaceable, life-saving programs is just as celebratory as this one.

    Protecting the Medicare Guarantee

    In the last month alone, Medicare has seen two big developments that improve the program for seniors and their families.

    Independence at Home

    The first is news that Independence at Home (IAH), a Medicare demonstration that provides chronically ill beneficiaries with primary care services in the home setting, reported strong results in both quality of care for seniors and savings for Medicare. That means patients can get the high-quality care they need without worrying about getting to the doctor. IAH also offers incentives for providing patients with care options that offer greater independence and quality of life while reducing costs.

    Housecall Providers, based in Portland, Oregon, is one of the program’s early participants. Housecall Providers has been doing tremendous work in Oregon for a long time, and they were the reason why I fought to include the program in the Affordable Care Act and to secure an important two-year extension for the demonstration in July.

    In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced strong results for the first year of the demonstration, and Housecall Providers reported the highest level of cost savings among the 17 practices in the demonstration. Learn more about this cost-saving program here.

    I will continue to fight to expand Independence at Home and make it permanent so more seniors have access to this critical benefit.

    Care Choices

    This month we also celebrated the launch of the Medicare Care Choices Model, which enables beneficiaries to continue receiving curative care while enrolling in hospice care at the same time. I authored the provision in the Affordable Care Act that served as the basis for Care Choices and am extremely proud to see it get off the ground.

    Care Choices has the potential to fundamentally shift how we approach end-of-life care. Electing to enroll in hospice no longer has to be a crossroads for seniors considering this type of care.

    Currently, Medicare Hospice Benefit enrollees currently must forgo curative treatment – which oftentimes discourages patients from seeking hospice care that may help them cope with their advanced terminal illness. The key in Care Choices is to give patients and their families options at the end of life.

    Because of such high interest, CMS expanded the model from an originally anticipated 30 Medicare-certified hospices to over 140 Medicare-certified hospices and extended the duration of the model from 3 to 5 years. You can learn more here.

    Providence Health & Services in Portland was one of the five hospices chosen in Region 10, which encompasses all of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

    Medicaid for another 50 years

    Medicaid makes sure that all Americans can afford health coverage, that families won’t have to choose between medicine for their kids and keeping the lights on. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide coverage for more than 71 million Americans, including nearly 30 million kids.

    Like Medicare, to keep Medicaid healthy for another 50 years, we need to focus on providing high-quality care while lowering costs. And that’s where Oregon has been leading the way. Our unique Coordinated Care Organizations (think of this like a team of folks focusing on all aspects of health) are already making huge strides to improve the health of Oregonians while bending the cost curve. CCO’s have the flexibility to visit patients’ homes and pay to fix broken floorboards or dangerous rugs that cause people to fall. Instead of treating a patient’s dehydration every there's a heat wave, they can give them a conditioner. This flexibility also allows them to check for mold or teach good nutrition and connect them with community resources.

    Happy 50th Medicare and Medicaid! Here’s to fighting for 50 more.

  • Oregon Fire Briefings Show Need for Ron's WIldfire Funding Reform

    Ron received two fire briefings last week in Oregon that highlighted the importance of his bipartisan wildfire funding reform bill.

    Federal and state fire officials told the Senator at briefings in Portland and Bend that months of low precipitation and high temperatures throughout Oregon add up to a fire season that began earlier and could end much later than usual, perhaps into October.

    Oregon is less than a month into summer and we already are facing the potential of a terrible trifecta of drought, high temperatures and fuel buildup on the forest floor,” Ron said.

    Praising the work of firefighters on the ground battling the blazes, Ron told fire officials that his wildfire funding reform bill with Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is a must to end the dysfunctional cycle of “fire borrowing.” Right now, the Forest Service is forced to siphon money away from fire prevention work to pay to put out fires because the cost of fighting wildfires often goes over budget. The Wyden-Crapo bill would end the dangerous cycle of raiding fire prevention accounts to fight fires by funding the largest wildfires like other natural disasters.

    The need to reform the currently broken system so that the largest infernos are funded by a separate account is especially evident, he said, as the state confronts the potential for a longer and tougher fire season.

    To see more about the Portland briefing, watch here. And to see more about the Bend briefing, watch here.

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    After the fire briefings in Portland and Bend, Ron held town halls in Harney, Lake and Jackson counties. At these three most recent town halls, Oregonians spoke with Ron about Iran, the global economy and the environment.

    He pledged when he was elected to the Senate in 1996 that he would hold an annual town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. He has now held 740 such meetings.

    To hear more about the importance of all these town halls to Ron, watch here.