LeadingAge Urges Congress to Adopt Comprehensive Relief Package to Safeguard Older Adults and Care Workers

PRESS RELEASE | June 10, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

As States Opens Up, the Pandemic Is Far from Over For Many Americans

Contact: Lisa Sanders

lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

June 10, 2020 Washington DC -- Today LeadingAge sent a letter to Congress urging them to follow through on their initial down payment to aging services providers working to protect the lives of vulnerable older adults during the worst pandemic in a century.

The letter lays out a comprehensive package of measures to deliver significant, targeted relief for older adults and staff in nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, affordable housing, retirement communities, adult day programs, home and community-based services, hospice, and home health.

As Congress takes up a new COVID-19 relief package amid reports of spikes and a possible second wave, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, urged lawmakers not to walk away from millions of older adults and their care providers.

“This pandemic is far from over. As states reopen, we must continue to fight. It is immoral to leave behind the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 without adequate protections as the rest of us move forward,” said Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO. “Older lives are not expendable.”

This package of requests delivers on LeadingAge’s Five Essential Actions, announced earlier this year, to support and protect vulnerable adults during the pandemic:

  • Immediate access to ample and appropriate PPE for all providers who serve older Americans
  • On demand and full funded access to accurate and rapid-results testing for older adults and their care providers
  • Assurance that states will consider the health and safety of older Americans as they reopen. 
  • Funding and support for aging services providers across the continuum of care. 
  • Recognition of frontline workers who are risking their own lives serving older people during this crisis. 

Among the key asks for the next relief package are a dedicated relief fund of $100 billion specifically for aging services providers; $1.2 billion for affordable senior housing; a $10 billion testing fund; support to deliver home health telehealth; access to forgivable loans; Medicaid adjustments; and the creation of a bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Future of Aging Services.

We supported the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) in the House, which took several steps toward addressing key needs of aging services providers across the continuum of care, including appreciation pay for frontline workers. Our asks for the relief package build on many of those provisions. 

As states are loosening the restrictions, there are already early signs of a new wave of infections. Yet older adults and the care workers, who have lived on the front line for months, are still grappling with the implications of a weak federal response at the start of the pandemic. Despite promises and press events from leaders, many nursing homes and other aging services providers are still without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and other critical resources needed to safeguard older adults and their care workers.

“We must keep fighting for the health, safety and wellbeing of this generation of older adults,” said Sloan Smith. “Congress must take immediate action to help safeguard older adults and their care workers. Do not leave us to fight this virus alone.”

LINK to letter here.

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.