LeadingAge to Congress: Don’t Walk Away From Older Americans as Legislation is Finalized

PRESS RELEASE | August 10, 2021 | by Susan Donley

“Every Dollar Makes a Difference to Older Americans and Their Families”

Contact: Susan Donley, sdonley@leadingage.org

August 10, 2021, Washington, DC—A top aging services organization applauded broadband support in infrastructure legislation just passed by the Senate called on lawmakers to fulfill other critical investments, including the President’s pledge to provide $400 billion for home and community-based care for older adults and support for more affordable senior housing.

“For millions of older adults who are skipping meals to make the rent, or who need help with essentials like getting in and out of bed, bathing and eating, or who require affordable, 24/7 care every dollar makes a difference,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, which represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers across the country. “The upcoming reconciliation package must specifically provide for investments to address the nation’s most pressing aging services needs.”

In a letter to Congress Monday, Sloan detailed those needs:

  • $400 billion for Home and Community-Based Services to allow more older adults to get the help they need to grow older wherever they call home, including increasing pay for the staff who provide the help.
  • $7.5 billion to address the nation’s shortage of affordable housing for older adults with very low incomes through HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program.
  • $55 billion to increase Medicaid reimbursement for nursing homes so they can pay wages that enable them to recruit and retain staff, especially front line workers.
  • $1 billion investment in the aging services workforce to implement strategies to strengthen recruitment, career and training opportunities that our nation’s direct care workers need to care for millions of older Americans and people with disabilities.

Legislative Progress; Strong Public Support

The Senate this morning passed an infrastructure bill that includes $65 billion investment to ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deploymentwhich can provide a basic utility for telehealth and other care services for older adults, and help them fight social isolation.

  • A recent LeadingAge survey showed that 83% of Americans support public investment in broadband internet to ensure equitable access for older adults.

Congress will turn next to an FY2022 Budget Resolution that can deliver funding for home and community-based services, as well as more affordable senior housing.

  • The LeadingAge survey also showed that 89% of Americans support public investment in affordable home care services to help older adults.
  • 86% support public investment in housing and support for low-income older adults to address the shortage and waiting lists that lead to homelessness, instability, and skipping meals and medicine to pay rent.

 

Sloan recently released a letter signed on behalf of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations—a coalition of 67 national nonprofit organization members—calling on Congress to support home and community-based services; better wages, benefits, and training for care workers; affordable housing programs; employment protections and workforce development; broadband services; and transportation options for older adults.

There are now 52 million people over 65, a population expected to double by 2040. LeadingAge supports increased investments in aging services as part of it’s Blueprint for a Better Aging Infrastructure which calls for investments in workforce, home and community-based services, and senior housing to help ensure the United States builds a strong foundation to meet the critical needs of our rapidly aging population both today and into the future.

About LeadingAge:

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, which now includes the providers of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, 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.