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Task Force on Aging & Families Lead Effort to Provide Relief for Seniors, People with Disabilities During Coronavirus Pandemic

Washington, March 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Democratic Caucus’ Task Force on Aging and Families introduced the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act to provide resources and support to protect the health and well-being of seniors, people with disabilities and the front-line workers and family caregivers who support these individuals.

Task Force Vice Chair Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the bill, which was cosponsored by Task Force Co-Chairs Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Task Force Vice Chairs Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Ted Deutch (D-FL).

More than 105 million Americans—or about 4 in 10 adults—are at heightened risk if infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including older adults, people with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions. The front-line workers and family caregivers who support these individuals also face increased risks, requiring additional resources and supports to protect their health and well-being.

Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act addresses critical health and economic needs for older adults, people with disabilities, front-line workers, and family caregivers. Specifically the bill, increases funding for nursing home surveys to promote infection control, covers the cost of treatment for low-income seniors and boost the economy, and promotes home and community-based services and protects home health workers. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced similar legislation in the Senate. A summary of the legislation is available here.

“Nursing homes and seniors became the image of coronavirus. Everyone is affected by coronavirus, but 105 million Americans – about 4 in 10 adults – are at heightened risk if infected including older adults, people with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions. The front-line workers and family caregivers need our support and resources to protect their health and well-being,” said Dingell. “The Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act will address critical health and economic needs for nursing homes, community-based services, home health care workers, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on services.”

"Older Americans and individuals with disabilities are at extreme risk for disease and even death during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scores of confirmed COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across our country underlines the need to protect them and their caregivers by strengthening nursing home care as well as home and community based services,” said Schakowsky. “As Co-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families, I’m proud to join Vice Chair Debbie Dingell and the rest of our leadership to introduce the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act and provide essential health and economic relief for older Americans, people with disabilities, health care workers, and family caregivers during this global health emergency.”

“For the tens of millions of older Americans and people with disabilities at higher risk from this pandemic, we must do everything in our power to direct resources to ensure greater safety and support for seniors and the caregivers they rely on,” said Matsui. “This legislation will address some of the most pressing concerns around nursing homes and COVID-19 by promoting better infection control, providing reliable treatment funding for low-income seniors, and supporting home and community-based services.” 

“All our lives, seniors took care of us.  Now we must stop at nothing to protect them, and those who care for them,” said Lamb.

“Vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities face challenges, even in a healthy and normal community environment,” said Roybal-Allard. “However, COVID-19 exponentially complicates their needs, their fears, and their isolation. The Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and Peoples with Disabilities Act will help ensure greater safety for these individuals in our nursing homes, and stronger support for those living on their own.  I am pleased to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this bill, which will sustain our most vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, as well as the health professionals who care for them, during this pandemic crisis.”

“During this unprecedented public health pandemic, it is our responsibility to protect our most vulnerable – seniors, people with disabilities, and the home health workers that support these groups. Our bill would provide the necessary assistance and resources needed by home health workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities, while also removing the economic burden felt by those with a low or fixed income. I am proud to fight for the millions of American’s whose livelihoods depend on safe and affordable care,” said Pressley.

“This is a particularly precarious time for vulnerable populations, including our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities and underlying health conditions. When broadened to include their health care providers, caregivers, and facility employees, there are hundreds of millions of Americans at high risk of contracting the coronavirus. As Congress develops our national response, this is a strong plan to specifically protect our vulnerable neighbors and family members,” said Deutch.

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