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AARP Calls on Congress to Address Growing Needs of Older Americans Amid Coronavirus Crisis

US Capitol, house of Congress, with sunset light

LOUISVILLE —AARP Kentucky volunteers and staff are meeting virtually with federal lawmakers to urge more help for older Americans and their families as they face growing health and economic challenges due to the coronavirus crisis. Residents in nursing homes, those who are food-insecure, and people who have lost their jobs are particularly in need.

“AARP Kentucky appreciates the significant bipartisan work Kentucky’s members of Congress have already accomplished on behalf of older Americans during this unprecedented crisis, and more actions are now urgently needed,” said AARP State President Charlotte Whittaker. “Older adults are at much greater risk from the coronavirus. It is critical that Congress continues to help older Americans confront health care and financial needs that are only growing.”

Volunteers from AARP Kentucky are seeking virtual meetings with lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including Senators McConnell and Paul, and Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06), Rep. James Comer (KY-01), Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04), Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05), and Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-03). The visits are part of AARP’s nationwide Virtual Lobby Week, April 29-May 6, in which AARP is calling for federal legislation to:

· Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities

Residents of care facilities have been hard hit by this pandemic, including more than 23,000 residents in Kentucky's 285 nursing homes. More than 99 Kentuckians in long-term care facilities have died of the virus. AARP urges that facilities be required to provide and support virtual visitation for their residents, so they can remain connected to loved ones and their families can stay apprised of their health and wellbeing. AARP is also asking Congress to support increased testing, adequate personal protective equipment for staff, and sufficient staffing in all long-term care facilities. Finally, AARP is also urging the daily public release of the names of nursing homes and other care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and staff and ensuring transfer and discharge rights for residents and their families.

· Invest More in Federal Nutrition Programs and Offer Greater Flexibility

To ensure older adults can continue to access food through the pandemic and economic crisis, AARP urges Congress to temporarily increase the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum benefit and the minimum monthly benefit. AARP also asks to suspend all rulemaking that would restrict SNAP eligibility or reduce benefits, as well as explore ways to expand access to online grocery shopping and delivery using SNAP benefits, which also helps protect public health.

· Provide Additional Support for State and Local Governments

More financial support will help state and local governments meet emerging needs. Unemployment insurance trust funds in Kentucky and other states are likely to run out, and Congress should provide grants to ensure benefits continue to be paid. Further, states that adopt mail-in balloting to protect public health during upcoming elections are likely to require more funding.

As part of AARP’s Virtual Lobby Week, leaders from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are meeting virtually with Capitol Hill offices to ensure their representatives prioritize the needs of older Americans and their families in this difficult time.

To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.

With more than 450,000 members in Kentucky, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth.

To learn more about AARP Kentucky, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aarpkentucky and follow @AARPKY on Twitter at www.twitter.com.

About AARP: AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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