With nursing homes and other long-term care facilities hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, AARP Texas is holding virtual meetings with members of Texas’ congressional delegation to urge more help for older Americans and their families.
Starting last week and continuing through Wednesday, leaders from AARP Texas are having conversations with federal lawmakers from across Texas as part of AARP’s nationwide Virtual Lobby Week. The message from AARP Texas in the meetings is focused on the health of residents in nursing homes, the needs of those who are food insecure, as well as people who have lost their jobs and are particularly in need.
“While we appreciate the significant bipartisan work that Congress has already accomplished on behalf of older Americans during this crisis, more actions are urgently needed,” said AARP Texas Director Tina Tran. “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.”
The Virtual Lobby Week comes amid news reports that find that more than 40 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths are linked to long-term care facilities.
AARP Texas’ meetings with U.S. House and Senate members have included a call for federal legislation to:
* Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Care FacilitiesAARP 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. 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 FlexibilityTo 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 we 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 GovernmentsMore financial support will help state and local governments meet emerging needs. States are likely to exhaust their unemployment insuring (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.
To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.