The way these guys act is anything but kosher

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
If long-term care providers (and their residents and families) needed any more depressing confirmation that they are not on the presidential radar screen, they've gotten it full-blast recently.

First, President Obama barely acknowledged such a thing as healthcare even exists in his State of the Union address. Despite impassioned pleas from long-term care lobbyists, he wouldn't touch nursing home care with somebody else's 10-foot pole.

The Republicans also have had their turn. First, we had presidential candidate Rick Santorum saying that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should be abolished. Granted, he was trying to point out a need to clean up excessive bureaucracy. But this is the best he could do — advocating the elimination of the source that makes about 75% of the payments for U.S. long-term care?

Then the nonsense sank to new lows with “robo-calls” across Florida from Newt Gingrich's people. They warned voters that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had forced “Holocaust survivors” to eat non-kosher food for the first time in their lives.

Great, finally something serious to report about, right?

Well, not really. Numerous outlets and bloggers — Jew and gentile alike — noted that, due to the higher costs of preparing kosher meals, often for relatively few residents, facilities themselves had decided to close their own kosher kitchens and bring in the food by other means. No one was ever denied — or threatened to be denied — access to kosher meals.

True, a proposal that would have granted $600,000 to allow the kitchens to remain open was vetoed by Romney. He was either trying to be prudent during a budget crisis or was being insensitive to Jews, depending on your point of view. Regardless, the Legislature overrode the veto and the kitchens remained open anyway. This was in 2003, by the way.

“Gingrich's comments have little basis in reality,” concluded Jewish blogger Alana Goodman for the online Commentary magazine.

So there you have it: No real mention at all from Obama, unrealistic commentary from Santorum and “little basis” in reality from Gingrich.

There may have been eldercare blips since this was written, but there's still just one conclusion that can be made about where senior care fits on the presidential totem pole: underground.