For Immediate Release
December 1, 2020
Jason Erskine / 206-517-9345
Cathy MacCaul / 206-218-5915
AARP Washington Urges Congress to Address Continuing Needs of Older Americans, Nursing Home Residents through “Virtual Lobby Week”
AARP leaders nationwide will meet remotely with Senate, House offices, as COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes surpass 101,000
Washington - As coronavirus cases and deaths continue rising, including more than 101,000 resident and staff deaths in U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, AARP Washington is participating in a nationwide Virtual Lobby Week for the second time this year to fight for older Americans amid the crisis. Beginning today through December 8, AARP leaders and volunteers will visit virtually with federal lawmakers to urge more help for those age 50-plus and their families as they continue facing growing health and economic challenges due to the pandemic.
“On behalf of our more than 900,000 members in the state, AARP Washington is committed to fighting for bipartisan policies that will protect older Americans and their families as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its march across the country,” said AARP Advocacy Director Cathy MacCaul. “It is crucial that Congress continues to help older adults confront their health and financial needs that remain in dire jeopardy nine months into the pandemic. Residents in nursing homes, those who are food-insecure, and soon-to-be Social Security beneficiaries are in particular need.”
Leaders from AARP Washington will hold virtual meetings with lawmakers and staff in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including Senator Patty Murray (D), Senator Maria Cantwell (D), Representative Pramilla Jayapal (D-7), Representative Denny Heck (D-10), Representative Suzan DelBene (D-1), and staff from the offices of Representative Derek Kilmer (D-6) and Representative Kim Schrier (D-8).
AARP has called for federal legislation to:
Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities
The continued rapid rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the country presents a considerable risk to residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where more than 101,000 have died from the virus, representing 40% of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide. According to an analysis by the New York Times, 1,420 residents and staff have died here in Washington State, accounting for half (50%) of all COVID-19 deaths in the state. AARP is urging Congress to take critical steps to help save lives in these facilities by ensuring that facilities are testing staff and residents, providing personal protective equipment (PPE), and have adequate staffing levels. In a recent analysis by AARP, nursing homes nationally continue to face a shortage in PPE . One-in-five nursing homes nationally don’t have a 1-week supply of PPE, and 1-in-4 face staffing shortages. In Washington State, 28% of facilities lacked a week’s supply of PPE and 38.9% of nursing homes in Washington had a shortage of direct care workers (nurses and/or aides). With these shortages, AARP’s COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard found that 26% of nursing homes in Washington State have at least one resident who is positive for COVID, and 53% have at least one direct care worker who has COVID
Congress should also require facilities to make available and facilitate virtual visitation for their residents and families, and report publicly on a daily basis whether they have confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, including demographic data. Lastly, legislation should ensure that taxpayer dollars provided to long-term care facilities are used towards items and services that directly relate to the health and safety of residents and staff.
Defend Social Security Benefits
Over four million workers are likely to face a big drop in Social Security benefits if Congress does not fix the pandemic’s impact on how benefits are calculated. Because Social Security adjusts earnings for historical changes in wages, it is estimated that this “COVID cut” will result in a $45,000 reduction in benefits over twenty years for workers who turn 60 in 2020. AARP urges Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to address this “COVID cut” and hold Social Security beneficiaries harmless from the drop in wages in 2020.
Invest More in Federal Nutrition Programs
As people struggle to make ends meet during this incredibly challenging time, it’s getting even harder for millions of Americans 50+ to put food on the table. To address this growing and urgent need, AARP urges Congress to temporarily increase the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum benefit and the minimum monthly benefit to help ensure vulnerable Americans can afford to eat and stay healthy. SNAP is a vital lifeline that puts foods in the mouths of 473,593 Washingtonians, and on average, provides $1.48 per meal for a household with an adult age 50 or older in Washington State.
To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.
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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.