AARP leaders nationwide meeting remotely with Senate, House offices, as COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes reach nearly 100,000
As Coronavirus cases and deaths continue rising, including more than 100,000 resident and staff deaths in U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, AARP Indiana is participating in a nationwide Virtual Lobby Week for the second time this year to fight for older Americans amid the crisis.
Now through December 8, AARP leaders 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 800,000 members here, AARP Indiana 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 Director of Community Engagement Addison Pollock. “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.
“Our first priority, and most urgent, is nursing home safety. More than 50 percent of the total COVID-19 related deaths in Indiana are among nursing home/long-term care facility residents and staff, which is well above the national average of 40 percent. This is made all the more concerning by the fact that nursing home residents only make up one percent of Indiana’s population.”
Leaders from AARP Indiana held virtual meetings with lawmakers and their staff in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including Representative Jackie Walorski, Senator Mike Braun, and Senator Todd Young in order to make our priorities clear. AARP Indiana will also meet with Representative Brooks early next week. 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 94,000 have died from the virus, representing 40% of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide. 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, more than 1 in 5 nursing homes still report PPE shortages. 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.
AARP Indiana has made specific requests of federal legislators in this area, including:
• Ensuring long-term care facilities have rapid testing capabilities and the necessary stock of personal protective equipment, funding to hire adequate staffing, as necessary, and resources to purchase virtual visitation technology for facilitated virtual visitation (this is important because virtual visitation serves as an essential health and safety check for caregivers and enhances the well-being of long-term care residents)
• Provide that any new funding made available to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has guardrails and accountability measures to make sure it is spent on ways to specifically address these issues.
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 is 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.
You can get involved by contacting your elected officials and letting your voice be heard on these issues through these links:
To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.
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