LeadingAge Statement on Coronavirus Stimulus Bill: Disproportionate Impact on Aging Services Demands Attention

PRESS RELEASE | March 13, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

House Legislation Provides Some Relief but More Action Needed

March 13, 2020 Washington D.C. -- As policymakers on Capitol Hill hammer out details of legislation to provide financial and policy-related relief to alleviate the coronavirus’ impact, LeadingAge, the association of mission-driven, aging-focused service providers, urges lawmakers in both houses to take decisive action to aid older adults and aging services providers in recognition of this pandemic’s disproportionate impact on both groups.

While the House of Representatives’ legislation introduced Mar. 12, HR 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, offers welcome relief for the U.S. economy and key sectors of the workforce, LeadingAge urges lawmakers to include the following key provisions in final legislation:

  1. Priority testing for COVID-19 for aging services staff and residents and put programs in place to help with mobile testing for staff and residents who are not able to leave a community. Congress must also ensure free and timely access for anyone who requires testing.
  2. Priority access to personal protective equipment for home health workers, hospice workers, adult day and PACE employees, and service coordinators in HUD housing as well as nursing homes, assisted living communities, and hospitals.
  3. Increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid to help with providing care for beneficiaries.
  4. Support for the more than 1.6 million at-risk older adults living in HUD-assisted senior housing, with supplemental financial assistance for housing providers to ensure resident safety and funding for emergency rental assistance for residents. (Related: read LeadingAge’s Mar. 6 letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force)
  5. Funding to support a service coordinator in every HUD Section 202 community to help residents navigate emergency response and preparedness and to access critical care and community resources.

“Public health officials have in no uncertain terms identified older adults as a population at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. As the coronavirus spreads, our members and other providers of aging services are on the front lines, delivering compassionate care under challenging circumstances. It is imperative that Congress support this critical work by giving them the resources and attention they need to surmount the coronavirus threat,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge. “This crisis reveals systemic shortcomings in how we prioritize older people. We have an opportunity, now, to deliver solutions. This is not someone else’s problem. It is time to act.”