Aging Services Providers Launch 100 Days of Advocacy to Urge Congress to Help Older Americans With Speedy COVID Crisis Relief
PRESS RELEASE | January 29, 2021
“There’s not a moment to lose in stopping this tragic crisis, and supporting older adults and their care providers—including those in nursing homes.”
Contact: Lisa Sanders
January 29, 2021, Washington, DC—Members of LeadingAge, the national organization representing more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services organizations, kicked off a nationwide drive urging Members of Congress to prioritize quick relief for older Americans.
“This virus has raged on for nearly a year, so there’s not a moment to lose in stopping this tragic crisis, and supporting older adults and their care providers—including those in nursing homes,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.
LeadingAge welcomed efforts to expedite COVID relief legislation, as care providers around the country continue to press for immediate action to protect older Americans, who have suffered most from the coronavirus.
“Our community of mission-driven providers have dedicated their lives to serving older Americans, delivering quality care and the most intimate daily support when families and others cannot. Nursing homes must not continue to be the stepchild in the American health care system; they play a unique and essential role,” said Sloan.
“This unprecedented crisis has been made worse by insufficient federal action sending a message that the lives of older Americans are expendable. Providers on the front line caring for millions of older adults still need urgent relief in the form of more testing, PPE, staffing support and funding to save and protect lives from this highly contagious virus.
Aging services providers around the country began reaching out this week, urging Congress to adopt legislation that addresses the following critical needs:
Preventing New Cases
- Vaccines: Support a fully funded, coordinated vaccination program to deliver vaccines to all recipients and providers of aging and long-term services and supports across residential and non-residential settings.
Identifying and Limiting Spread of the Virus
- Testing: Support a fully funded, coordinated national testing program that covers all recipients (regardless of where they live) and providers of aging services. The program should include provisions for testing supplies, PPE, and staff time for testing, record-keeping and reporting.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure that PPE manufacturing keeps up with need, that PPE in the national and state stockpiles is distributed, and that funds are provided to pay for PPE. There are still shortages of certain PPE items for aging services organizations, and the cost of PPE is far beyond anticipated budgets.
Ensuring Staff is at the Ready for Caring and Other Vital Services
- Staffing: Provide targeted funds to increase worker wages for frontline staff in one of the most dangerous workplaces and in all aging services settings, including personal care aides, LPNs, and RNs.
The historically critical workforce shortages in aging services have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Workers on the front line are exhausted and need support. Providers are grappling with extraordinarily high costs of short term staffing to cover gaps when care when staff are sick or need to isolate.
Funding Pandemic-related Costs
- Financing: Support for loan and grant programs, such as more Paycheck Protection Funds, and more Provider Relief Funds—with requirements for transparency in administration. Also continue the moratorium on Medicare sequestration.
Providers are facing ongoing costs beyond all expectations for supplies, temporary staff, infrastructure, and other necessary expenses to fight and recover from the pandemic.
- Additional Funds for State to Support Aging Services: Support additional funding for states with requirements that they spend a set percentage on aging services, now-shuttered adult day and other HCBS programs can help serve more older adults and provide respite to family members caring for them.
Supporting Older Americans Living in Affordable Housing
- Affordable Senior Housing: Funding for services, staffing, cleaning and disinfecting, service coordination, and wireless internet to help the more than 2.2 million older adults who live in federally subsidized apartment buildings, which need help beyond rental assistance to survive the pandemic.
Sloan laid out the challenges and needs of the aging services sector in a special message released today, Making 2021 a New Beginning for Older Americans.
In December, LeadingAge sent the Biden transition team nearly four dozen recommended policy actions for its first 30 days,100 days, and first year.
We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership encompasses the continuum of services for people as they age, including those with disabilities. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.