AARP Connecticut Urges Congress to Address Continuing Needs of Older Americans, Nursing Home Residents through “Virtual Lobby Week”

Posted on 12/07/20

AARP leaders nationwide meet remotely with Senate, House offices, as COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes exceed 100,000

As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, including more than 100,000 resident and staff deaths in U.S. ​nursing homes and other long-term car​e facilities, AARP Connecticut is participating in a nationwide Virtual Lobby Week for the second time this year to fight for older Americans amid the crisis. Beginning last week through December 8, AARP leaders and volunteers are visiting virtually with federal lawmakers to urge more help for the 50-plus and their families as they face growing health and economic challenges due to the pandemic.

“We applaud members of Congress for their participation and engagement to address the unprecedented growing financial and health challenges this crisis has created for older Americans and their families,” said AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are committed to working with state and federal lawmakers for bipartisan policies that protect Americans.”

AARP Connecticut staff and volunteers held virtual meetings with lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including Representatives Joe Courtney, Jim Himes and John Larson, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and staff of Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Jahana Hayes. 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 100,000 have died from the virus, representing 40% of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide and nearly 70% of deaths in Connecticut. AARP is urging Congress to take critical steps to help save lives in these facilities by ensuring they test staff and residents, provide personal protective equipment (PPE), and have adequate staffing levels. In a recent analysis by AARP, more than 1 in 5 nursing homes still report PPE shortages. Congress should also take action to require daily reporting of COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, ensure that nursing homes facilitate regular virtual visits, and reject blanket immunity for long-term care facilities due to COVID-19. . Lastly, legislation should ensure long-term care facilities use taxpayer-provided dollars 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, this “COVID cut” will result in an estimated $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. 

“We appreciate Governor Lamont and his administration for their important work to address PPE, reporting and virtual visits in nursing homes, but more needs to be done now here in Connecticut and especially at the federal level,” said Duncan. “AARP Connecticut urges the recently convened Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group to recommend – and lawmakers to act on – measures that will end civil immunity, improve staffing ratios, and ensure residents are not lonely and isolated.”

To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.

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.

This story is provided by AARP Connecticut. Visit the AARP Connecticut page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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