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

This week, AARP Massachusetts met 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 Massachusetts appreciates the significant bipartisan work Massachusetts’ 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 Director Mike Festa. “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.”

Leaders from AARP Massachusetts held virtual meetings with the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation. The visits were part of AARP’s nationwide Virtual Lobby Week, in which AARP called for federal legislation to:

· Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities

Residents of care facilities have been hard hit by this pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of COVID-related deaths in Massachusetts have occurred at nursing homes. 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 both 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. States are likely to exhaust their unemployment insurance (UI) trust funds, 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 met 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.

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