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.
HR 6800, the Heroes Act: Breaking Down What’s in The Heroes Act
Enacted legislation: What Congress Has Done for COVID-19 Relief and What Might be Next
NCOA Endorsements: View Key Legislation at the NCOA Action Center
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.
- NCOA blog: What Congress Should Do for Low-Income Older Adults
- 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. It is time to expand SNAP benefits as was done during the Great Recession in 2009 and maximize older adult participation in this crucial program.
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 $10 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
- National advocacy: Group letter
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
By June 10: Add your organization to national letter
Share Your Story
Sharing stories has always been the main way people and organizations celebrate Older Americans Month. Not only does it spread the wisdom you’ve gained over the years, but it empowers and inspires those who learn from you. With COVID-19 changing so much about day-to-day life, we’ve made that the focus of our efforts this year. If you’re an older adult, caregiver, or aging services professional, tell us about your experience with COVID-19. Learn more at Make Your Mark During Older Americans Month.
Access additional news and resources for older adults, caregivers, and aging services professionals on our home page.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact the NCOA Public Policy & Advocacy team.