AARP Urges Congress to Take Aggressive Steps Now to Protect Older Americans Against Coronavirus Crisis
AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond, in a letter, urged Congress to take aggressive next steps to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and work to help older Americans, who are most at risk from coronavirus.
LeaMond thanked Congress for its earlier bipartisan actions against coronavirus and wrote, “Americans of all ages are looking to Congress for bold and visionary leadership. We look forward to working with you in the weeks to come to address these targeted and necessary solutions.”
AARP, through her letter, called for a range of provisions to protect older Americans and their families:
Provide Financial Relief from Economic Shocks
- AARP supports direct cash payments to individuals whether working, unable to work, unemployed, or retired. Direct payments provide benefits more broadly, including to people most in need, as opposed to only those currently receiving a paycheck.
- If Congress does consider suspending payroll contributions, it is imperative that Congress reimburse the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Residential Facilities
- Prioritize testing for residents in long-term care, assisted living and other facilities, particularly those where COVID-19 cases have already occurred. There should also be greater availability and prioritization of testing for front-line workers at care facilities.
- Dramatically increase funding for nursing home and assisted living staffing, and ensure that workers are adequately trained to limit exposure to themselves and to residents, and have adequate protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
- Develop communication standards for nursing homes to keep family informed and connected with nursing home residents (including virtual visitation via videoconference or other technologies). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should require, not simply encourage, nursing homes to keep residents’ loved ones informed about their care.
Ensure Seniors Don’t Go Hungry
- Ensure that vulnerable populations do not lose critical access to food during this pandemic. Increase availability of federal nutrition programs and increase program flexibility to expand reach and allow for local, innovative responses, including for congregate and home-delivered nutrition programs, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and The Emergency Supplemental Food Program.
- Suspend the implementation of any Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rules that would make access to food more difficult during this national emergency.
Access AARP’s letter here.