House Democratic Caucus Task Force On Aging & Families Outlines Blueprint For Protecting Older Americans Amid Covid-19

April 27, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, following last week’s House vote to provide additional support for small businesses, hospitals, health care workers and all Americans, House Democrats’ Task Force on Aging and Families announced a set of principles guiding its efforts in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The blueprint builds on the Task Force’s previously announced Older Americans Bill of Rights, a comprehensive framework to keep Older Americans and their families healthy, safe and financially secure.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has harmed the well-being and wallets of millions of Americans, taking a particular toll on our nation’s most vulnerable populations, especially Older Americans,” said Task Force Founder and Co-Chair Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) along with the rest of the Task Force on Aging & Families leadership in a joint statement. “Guided by these principles, the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families is working to ensure all seniors, their families and their caregivers—no matter who they are or where they live—are guaranteed a comprehensive standard of care and financial security to weather this public health crisis.”

House Democrats’ Task Force on Aging & Families is led by Co-Chairs Schakowsky (D-IL),and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Conor Lamb (D-PA) in addition to Vice Chairs Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).

The following principles encompass the Task Force’s priorities for future pandemic relief legislation as well as areas where its Members are standing up for Older Americans by holding the Administration accountable during its response.

Principle 1: Guaranteed Access to Affordable, Equitable and Comprehensive Health Care

The Task Force on Aging and Families is calling on the Trump Administration to:

  • Declare a special ACA open enrollment period and extend the Medicare enrollment period to allow Americans to seek coverage amid the pandemic.
  • Drop its anti-ACA lawsuit to strip coverage from millions in the context of the pandemic.
  • Ensure all treatments or vaccinations developed to address COVID-19 are affordable and accessible, including and especially for Older Americans.

The Task Force is committed to:

  • Ensuring that Older Americans are not more susceptible to adverse health outcomes as a result of missing preventive care or therapies due to social distancing.
  • Protecting Older Americans of color and their families, who are particularly susceptible to the virus due to lasting health disparities
  • Making sure that telehealth is widely available for routine care, as well as PT, OT, speech language pathologists, audiologists and other needed therapies.

Principle 2: Financial & Retirement Security for Themselves & Their Families

The Task Force on Aging and Families is calling on the Trump Administration to:

  • Ensure Social Security recipients are able to equitably and easily access current and future rebate (direct cash) programs implemented in pandemic response legislation.
  • Increase social security benefits for the length of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Task Force is committed to:

  • Addressing the challenge facing public and multiemployer pension plans during the economic downturn.
  • Preventing scammers from taking advantage of Older Americans in the context of relief programs.

Principle 3: Full Participation & Contribution to Their Communities

The Task Force on Aging and Families is calling on the Trump Administration to:

  • Place a national moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs for the length of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Task Force is committed to:

  • Protecting Older Americans, particularly those in need of affordable housing, from eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19 related circumstances.
  • Addressing inequitable social determinants of health that have increased COVID-19 cases and fatalities among Black and Latino older Americans

Principle 4: Age with Dignity & Respect

The Task Force on Aging and Families is committed to:

  • Ensuring that home health care aides – overwhelmingly people of color – have the proper equipment and resources to continue safely caring for Older Americans at home.
  • Granting families adequate COVID-19 paid leave provisions to ensure they can care for loved ones as needed.

Principle 5: Quality Standards For Long-Term Care Facilities

The Task Force on Aging and Families is calling on the Trump Administration to:

  • Ensure that adequate infection control guidelines are established to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within nursing and long-term care facilities and that these facilities have access to the workforce and PPE required to carry out these directives.
  • Immediately distribute the $100M for infection control put aside in the CARES Act and include nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as they distribute the $175B put aside in the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act.
  • Require facilities to report all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and fatalities to residents, families, state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the general public to ensure transparency, accountability and data for the federal government to utilize in a robust response.
  • Ensure facilities have sufficient testing kits to protect their residents and workers and to accurately report COVID-19 case data.
  • Make sure that the elimination of in-person inspections does not leave patients at these facilities more vulnerable to neglect and abuse.
  • Clarify discharge guidelines for non-COVID 19 Medicare or Medicaid patients and their families so they are able to plan care accordingly.

The Task Force on Aging and Families is committed to:

  • Protecting the approximately 2.3 million Americans currently living in nursing facilities and other congregate living setting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put them at great risk of infection, illness and death.
  • Protecting the workers who are also risking their lives to care for these patients.

Principle 6: Food Security

The Task Force on Aging and Families is calling on the Trump Administration to:

  • Increase Older Americans’ ability to use food assistance programs from home by expanding the online EBT purchasing pilot.

The Task Force on Aging and Families is committed to:

  • Supporting food banks and other nonprofits that are seeing increased demands as they serve Older Americans and families with seniors in their family unit during COVID-19.

 

 

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