LeadingAge Calls on Senate to Fill "Enormous Gaps" Left by House of Representatives COVID Bill: "This is No Time for Half-Measures"

PRESS RELEASE | March 03, 2021 | by Susan Donley

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March 3, 2021, Washington, DC—In the wake of COVID legislation passed by the House of Representatives this weekend that lacks desperately needed support for older Americans, a key aging services leader called on Senators to step up support for and prioritize older adults and care providers who have been most vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

“After a year of disaster that hit older Americans particularly hard, Congress can’t turn its back now,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “This is no time for half-measures. The 2.5 million people in HUD-assisted senior housing were left out of the House-passed package, and many aging services providers have burned through their savings and continue to incur mammoth COVID related expenses. With more than 2,000 people still dying every day from COVID, it’s clear the crisis isn’t over.”

The House of Representatives voted Saturday on a COVID relief package. The Senate’s deliberations begin this week.

“The House legislation includes many important provisions, but falls short in providing relief for those most impacted by the virus--older Americans and their care providers,” added Sloan. “Congress must adopt legislation to provide more vaccines, regular and rapid testing, access to affordable and abundant PPE, additional staffing support and robust funding necessary to provide 24/7 health and long-term care to the most vulnerable Americans.”

LeadingAge has called for at least $120 billion in Provider Relief Fund assistance for care providers reeling from pandemic expenses (at least $40-50B of which should be designated specifically for aging services providers), along with $1.2 billion to address the needs of older adults in HUD-assisted senior housing to underwrite service coordinators and wireless internet access, along with cleaning, PPE, services, and staffing to deal with the pandemic.

As the Senate debate gets underway, multiple Senators recognize that the nursing home sector needs significantly more funding to deal with COVID’s challenges. “We appreciate efforts by senators to increase this funding, including legislation introduced by Senator Bob Casey and others that would more than double House-proposed funding to help nursing homes,” added Sloan.

A January 2021 survey of LeadingAge HUD-community providers revealed that despite the financial strain felt by most providers throughout the pandemic, the majority of respondents said they did not receive extra financial support to cover COVID-19 cost burdens for either unexpected expenses or revenue loss.

As part of its 100 Days of Advocacy campaign, LeadingAge recently sent a series of letters to key committee chairs and mobilized members around the country to urge Congress to adopt speedy and robust relief. LeadingAge’s requests (to House of Representatives Committees on Financial Services, Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, Education and Labor and Small Business) lay out older Americans’ needs in numerous areas.



About LeadingAge

We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building. We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home. We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: www.leadingage.org