Senior Living residents and their caregivers must be prioritized for federal funds to account for massive pandemic losses, a crippling workforce crisis, and vaccine booster and testing efforts.
(Alexandria, Va.) – Argentum, the voice for the nation’s senior living communities, is undertaking a multi-faceted “Mr. President, Don’t Leave Us Behind, Again,” campaign to change the way the Biden Administration administers COVID relief and support programs by rolling out an aggressive ground game to press the President and Congressional leaders to keep their commitments to 2 million seniors who call assisted living and memory care communities home.
To kick-off and accelerate Argentum’s campaign to have the White House prioritize funding, resources, and related aid to assisted living and memory care caregivers who have bravely battled the pandemic for 18-plus months, the association’s President and CEO James Balda has penned a letter to President Biden.
The association also has strategically placed a web of billboards, banners, and other signage in locations across the country, notably renting billboard space near the President’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., to greet him during his visit this week. Argentum also hopes signage near Biden’s Delaware homes catch his attention and that of Congressional leaders across the country, as well as local political outreach, media placements, and traditional and digital advertising.
In the Biden letter, Argentum head Balda outlines three significant steps the Administration must take to target support to senior living communities that have been financially crippled by the pandemic and are staring at upward of $30 billion in losses. Even so, these communities are being left behind from receiving an equitable share of Provider Relief Funds, and consideration in the multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation (human infrastructure) legislation being debated in Congress.
The pain from fighting the pandemic is deep and widespread. Consider that the senior living workforce alone shrunk to 887,200 jobs by August 2021, the lowest level since 2016 and a 9.1% decline from the pre-pandemic high of 976,100 jobs, according to Argentum analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Senior living residents, who have an average age of 85, are also not included as priority cases for new federal vaccine booster and testing programs despite being the most vulnerable population for becoming seriously ill from a COVID infection.
The Argentum letter asked President Biden to take these common-sense steps:
- Target provider relief funds in Phase 4 disbursements. The current round of funding includes administrative flexibility, including the ability to target bonus payments based on the amount of services that providers furnish to Medicare patients. We ask that as application data is reviewed to determine a methodology for the Phase 4 payments, the significant number of Medicare beneficiaries who receive direct care as residents of senior living facilities is factored into bonus payments intended for providers serving seniors.
- Direct federal resources for booster administration. Without the federal vaccine program reconstituted, providers will need federal support and coordination to ensure vaccines are able to be administered as efficiently as possible so we may continue protecting our nation’s most frail seniors.
- Prioritize investments in long-term care in human infrastructure (reconciliation) negotiations. The proposed investments of $400 billion in care infrastructure are critical to meeting the growing demands in caring for our rapidly aging population. Specific investments should include a sustainability fund and development in the workforce, such as those proposed in the SENIOR Act, which will soon be introduced in Congress.
Approximately one in four older Americans who receive some form of assistance for activities of daily living reside in senior living facilities—across assisted living, memory/dementia care, independent living, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Balda told Biden.
“These facilities offer choice, dignity, security, and comfort in the final years of life. But having weathered the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year and a half with little federal relief, providers simply cannot afford to wait much longer. We need to do everything possible to ensure these providers—the homes of nearly 2 million older Americans—remain viable now and well into the future to meet the rapidly growing care needs of our nation’s seniors.”
Read the full Argentum letter to President Biden here.