For too many older Americans 2020 was filled with death, suffering, and fear. The beginning of vaccinations and a little more relief from Congress are important milestones, but COVID-19 has laid bare deep flaws in our systems for supporting the more than 8.3 million older adults who receive long-term care, and the more than 6 million workers who serve them.

The Biden administration and Congress must make 2021 a new beginning for older Americans. That means addressing COVID, since aging adults have suffered 80% of all coronavirus deaths. It means reversing decades of government neglect by paying the true costs of long-term care. It means increasing the supply of affordable housing for older adults with low incomes while also ensuring access to the services they need.

That’s why LeadingAge has submitted an action plan to the new administration that is designed to revalue older lives. We’ve mapped out more than 4 dozen concrete steps that can be carried out in the first year of the new administration (including its critical first month and first 100 days).

Priority 1 is to bring an end to COVID’s mortal threat to older adults. We must ensure that every aging service provider has the personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and staffing it needs to serve Americans living in residential care settings—along with millions of older Americans who receive care in their own homes and through community-based services. The new administration should immediately invoke the Defense Production Act to help fill PPE gaps, and it should develop a national testing program that offers rapid turnaround of test results to essential aging services workers, with Congress providing the funds.

President Biden must focus his leadership skills on defeating COVID by working with governors to help minimize community spread—and launching an interagency campaign to confront the mental health crises that COVID has wrought among so many older adults.

The new administration also has an opportunity to finally ensure that older adults get the health care and long-term care they need. President Biden and his team need to take steps to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. It’s time to commission America’s top health-sector thinkers to map out the challenges facing long-term care in the future, and the strategies to meet those challenges.

Real long-term care reform also means investing in community-based services for older Americans, including telehealth services that have filled a critical gap during the pandemic. We need more support, innovation, and updated payment models for post-acute care, long-term care services, and end-of-life supports. And the administration should work with Congress to streamline and harmonize conflicting and duplicative regulations across multiple programs.

Lastly, 2021 needs to be a year of priority for millions of older Americans with lower incomes for whom a lack of affordable housing can also mean a lack of aging services and supports. The new budget must focus on increasing affordable housing, especially for older adults with very-low incomes, and must include more assistance for renters and homeowners. Affordable senior housing providers need immediate access to unspent CARES Act funds and new COVID-19 relief. Eviction moratoriums must be extended. More Medicare and Medicaid funds are needed to promote the health of older adults in senior housing.

The coming year offers us all a new beginning—a chance to put the heartache and hard lessons of 2020 to work. We must build a better society for Americans to grow older. That means creating policies and mustering the political to recognize the dignity of older Americans, value their humanity, and give them the care and support they need wherever they call home.