WASHINGTON—As coronavirus cases and deaths continue rising, including more than 101,000 resident and staff deaths in U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, AARP is holding its second nationwide Virtual Lobby Week of the year to fight for older Americans amid the crisis. Beginning today through December 8, AARP state leaders and volunteers 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.
“As the health and financial security of millions of Americans remain in jeopardy nine months into the pandemic, AARP is again calling on Congress to provide dedicated funding and strong policies to protect older adults and their families,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “It’s crucial that Congress takes immediate action on several pressing needs, including protecting residents of nursing homes and other care facilities, ensuring Social Security benefits are protected for all, and temporarily increasing food assistance for those who are struggling in this pandemic to make ends meet.”
Leaders from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will meet remotely with Capitol Hill offices to call 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 101,000 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.
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’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.
To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.
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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.