AARP Rhode Island Calls on Congress to Address Growing Needs of
Older Americans Amid Coronavirus Crisis
PROVIDENCE The past week, AARP Rhode Island met virtually with federal lawmakers to urge more help for older Americans and their families as they face growing health and economic challenges due to the coronavirus crisis. Residents in nursing homes, those who are food-insecure, and people who have lost their jobs are particularly in need.
“AARP Rhode Island appreciates the significant bipartisan work the state’s members of Congress have already accomplished on behalf of older Americans during this unprecedented crisis, and more actions are now urgently needed,” said AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen S. Connell. “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.”
Leaders from AARP Rhode Island held virtual meetings with lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives James Langevin and David Cicilline. The visits were part of AARP’s nationwide Virtual Lobby Week, in which AARP called for federal legislation to:
· Protect Residents in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities
Residents of care facilities have been hard hit by this pandemic where more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed and, sadly, as many as 280 lives have been lost. This accounts for 76% of Rhode Island COVID-19 deaths. AARP 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.
Across the country, 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.” (Rhode Island releases such data regularly, if not daily.)
· Invest More in Federal Nutrition Programs and Offer Greater Flexibility
To 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 well 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 Governments
More financial support will help state and local governments meet emerging needs. States are likely to exhaust their unemployment insurance (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.
As part of AARP’s Virtual Lobby Week, leaders from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico met virtually with Capitol Hill offices to ensure their representatives prioritize the needs of older Americans and their families in this difficult time.
To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.
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 Rhode Island. Visit the AARP Rhode Island page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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