The health and safety of older Americans is of utmost concern during the coronavirus pandemic. People over the age of 60, particularly those with chronic conditions, are at highest risk of nursing home placement, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19 complications. Congress needs to do more to keep older adults healthy in their homes – and out of nursing homes and hospitals.
In the waning days of 2020, another federal COVID-19 relief package was enacted, totaling $900 billion. Much more remains to be done, including in areas NCOA continues to prioritize. Congress is pursuing another round of legislation, with Committee action by Feb. 15 and passage by Mar. 14. Your voice is needed now!
2020 Year-End Package: Congress’ Final Legislative Package of 2020: What’s In It for Older Adults
Enacted legislation through April 2020: What Congress Has Done for COVID-19 Relief and What Might be Next
Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS)
Medicaid is the federal-state health insurance program for low-income Americans, including older adults and people with disabilities in need of long-term care. Home and Community-Based Services have been proven to keep people out of nursing homes, which is vital at a time when these institutions have remarkably high rates of COVID-19 infection and death. An increase in federal Medicaid matching funds is urgently needed, as well as targeted resources for HCBS.
- National advocacy: Group Letter
Take action: Help Low-Income Americans Get Long-Term Care at Home
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
With the economic challenges many are facing, more assistance is needed to prevent older adults and people with disabilities from going hungry. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a vital part of the safety net and has been shown to lift people out of poverty and improve their health. As older adults are facing self-isolation for an extended period of time, it is more important than ever that they are empowered to stay healthy by eating nutritious foods.
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP): Rosenbaum: Executive Action on Food Assistance Strengthens Federal Response to Hunger
- NCOA blog: Where to Get Food Help Now
Funding for Vaccination Efforts
The Aging Network is already providing education and outreach to combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Aging organizations are answering questions about vaccine availability, processes for scheduling, and eligibility for different populations. As trusted resources of state and local information and help, the aging services network is invaluable in efforts to vaccinate the older adult population. However, with no additional resources available for this work, it will be impossible for many state, local and community-based organizations within the aging services network to assist in providing these critical wrap-around services at the level needed to achieve widespread vaccination among all older adults. We are asking Congress to support an additional $200 million boost to federal investments in Older Americans Act III-B Supportive Services.
- National Advocacy: n4a group letter
Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
People over the age of 60, particularly those with chronic conditions, are at highest risk of nursing home placement, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19 complications. Older Americans Act (OAA) evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs delivered by community-based organizations help older adults to maintain their health, manage existing chronic illness, prevent the occurrence of new conditions, and mitigate social isolation and loneliness. An investment of at least $44 million is needed to provide older adults with access to the virtual programs that are emerging.
- NCOA issue brief: COVID-19 and Older Adults: Support for Community-Based Physical and Behavioral Health
Take action: Ask Congress to invest in healthy aging programs
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
The COVID-19 pandemic has put older workers at a double risk: being laid off or being forced to go into a workplace and put their health at risk. For older adults, losing a job can be especially difficult. Older workers are more likely to remain out of work for lengthier periods of time compared to their younger counterparts. It is time to invest in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) as was done during the Great Recession. SCSEP provides subsidized job training and placement assistance to help low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55+ find work and get back on the path to financial stability.
Take action: Urge Congress to help older workers
Share Your Story
So much is changing about day-to-day life, and your story is important to educate and inspire others. If you’re an older adult, caregiver, or aging services professional, tell us about your experience with COVID-19.