(Alexandria, Va.) – Bold bipartisan legislation made necessary by the COVID pandemic would save America’s assisted living and senior living communities from financial ruin and stem a workforce shortage crisis. Introduced by Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the SENIOR (Safeguarding Elderly Needs for Infrastructure and Occupational Resources) Act is the first bill targeting senior living for assistance related to the pandemic.
Argentum, the leading advocacy group for professionally managed senior living communities, said the SENIOR Act would address two issues through new federal appropriations by creating a caregiver sustainability fund and expanding the senior caregiving workforce. The sustainability fund appropriates $10 billion in new federal funding to assisted living caregivers that demonstrate significant and uncompensated COVID-19 related losses due to direct senior care, similar to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).
With media reports out this week reporting that the PRF has no remaining balance due to the Biden Administration tapping the funds for pharmaceutical expenditures, this new legislation is made even more relevant to protecting the nation’s senior living communities.
The bill would also increase the investment in existing workforce development programs under the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) through four-year grants totaling $1 million per entity to help develop a geriatric care workforce.
In a statement unveiling the legislation, Rep. Trahan said: “Millions of seniors across America rely on the critical, affordable care offered by assisted living facilities. Losing access to these facilities will drive up costs and place an even greater burden on older adults and their loved ones, many of whom are unable to afford more expensive options like nursing homes or in-home care.”
“I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan SENIOR Act, which will ensure that assisted living facilities are able to keep their doors open with specialized caregivers on staff so they can continue caring for our nation’s seniors for years to come.”
Sharing in support of the SENIOR Act, Rep. Fitzpatrick said: “Since the onset of the pandemic, hard-hit senior-living facilities across the nation have incurred major financial losses and have been met with an unprecedented workload.
“Seniors are among the most vulnerable populations, and it is our duty to ensure that assisted living communities are provided with the funding and support they need to keep their doors open and care for our elderly.”