LeadingAge Steps Up Calls on Congress to Allocate More Resources to Prioritize Older Adults in COVID Relief Legislation

Aging Services Providers Press Congress as Part of “100 Days of Advocacy” Campaign; LeadingAge Letters Lay Out Priorities for Congressional Committee Chairs

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org   202-508-9407

 

February 11, 2021, Washington, DC—A key aging services leader is stepping up calls on Congress to enact COVID relief that addresses the dangers the pandemic has posed to older adults. As part of its 100 Days of Advocacy campaign, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, this week sent a series of letters to key committee chairs and mobilized members around the country to urge Congress to adopt speedy and robust relief.

“Aging services providers continue to protect older adults and their staff—and in turn COVID costs continue to mount,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “Providers who serve older Americans face exponential expenses. Congress must pass a robust, comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill to ensure vulnerable older Americans and the providers who serve them survive the pandemic intact.”

“What we’ve seen from the House thus far is a significant step in the right direction on healthcare provisions, but we’re disappointed that resources for the millions of low-income older adults living in federally-assisted affordable housing have largely been forgotten,” added Sloan. “Relief must prioritize their needs, as well as those of providers struggling with the financial consequences of the pandemic.”

Sloan sent letters to key Congressional committee chairs this week spelling out what is needed to stem the crisis and protect older adults—including a call for additional Provider Relief Funds to help struggling care providers, and fulsome support for older adults in affordable housing settings, which is absent from current proposals.

LeadingAge’s requests (to House of Representatives Committees on Financial Services, Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, Education and Labor and Small Business) lay out older Americans’ needs in numerous areas Two areas of particular importance are:

  • Provider Relief Fund (PRF): At least an additional $120 billion in financial relief to address the current needs of all health care providers stemming from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • $40-50 billin of that amount should be designated specifically to help aging services providers continue to provide quality care while navigating pandemic-induced financial uncertainty--especially if the costs related to testing, personal protective equipment, and vaccines are not otherwise covered by the federal government.
    • In additin, providers should be able to utilize the PRF received for up to 6 months after the end of the pandemic to provide adequate time to phase back into pre-pandemic service levels.
  • Affordable Housing Relief: $1.2 billion in COVID-19 relief to address the needs of older adults in HUD-assisted senior housing.
    • $300 millin for Service Coordinators
    • $50 millin for wireless internet installation and service fees for HUD-assisted resident apartments
    • $845 millin for COVID-19 costs, including cleaning, PPE, security and other services, and staffing

The federal government will also need to expedite relief payments, since it has taken months for the government to get the funds Congress appropriated into providers’ hands.

These recommendations reflect the real and dire needs of a ging services providers, who continue to face exponential increases in expenses from testing, PPE, staffing, cleaning and other ongoing costs--even as revenues to cover these unprecedented needs have fallen substantially for many. (A January 2021 survey of LeadingAge HUD-community providers revealed that despite the financial strain felt by most providers throughout the pandemic, the majority of survey respondents said they did not receive extra financial support to cover COVID-19 cost burdens for either unexpected expenses or revenue loss.)

About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building. We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home. We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: www.leadingage.org