LeadingAge Statement on New Heroes Act Proposal and Coronavirus Relief Negotiations This Week

PRESS RELEASE | September 30, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

September 30, 2020 Washington, DC — Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the national association of nonprofit providers of aging services, whose 5,000-plus members care for millions of older adults nationwide:

“An updated Heroes Act was introduced this week and negotiations are underway. Aging services providers still have desperate and immediate needs for access to and funding for rapid-response testing, and face increased financial struggles to pay the spiraling costs of expensive testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and staffing.

We appreciate that House leaders are trying to reach a deal to deliver some of the much-needed resources and support for older Americans, who account for 80% of all coronavirus deaths. Parts of the latest Heroes Act draft provide some of what is needed to protect older Americans. LeadingAge’s response to the current bill follows:

  • Staffing Support: For aging services organizations, staffing is consistently a critical need, but especially so during this pandemic. While it is unfortunate that this bill does not address pandemic premium pay for essential workers, it does fund state and local health departments to purchase PPE for these essential workers.
  • Testing and Other Support: Additional funding for Older Americans Act programs will help address the needs of older adults facing challenges from the pandemic. LeadingAge has continually advocated for funding to ensure the sustainability of supports and services for older adults throughout the pandemic, and this bill’s provider relief and testing/tracing provisions are another step in the right direction. Funding for vaccine distribution is also a positive step.
  • Affordable Senior Housing: LeadingAge commends the inclusion in the bill of provisions to support affordable senior housing, including $500 million for the Section 2020 Housing for the Elderly program and $750 million for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance.
  • Telehealth: COVID-19 has placed greater emphasis on virtual connections rather than in-person interactions, so funding to bring internet to individuals in HUD-assisted senior housing and home health provider reimbursement for telehealth should be included in this bill.

We urge Senate lawmakers and the Administration to follow the House’s lead and to collaborate in building on the new Heroes Act proposal. Please, reach a deal that should have been made months ago. Too many lives are at stake to walk away now.”

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.