The American Healthcare Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) have sent a letter to lawmakers, asking to be included in the upcoming stimulus package. Many are counting on the United States Senate to pass another stimulus check, extend unemployment enhancements and grant other financial aid during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the AHCA and the NCAL, they have yet to receive anything.
The U.S. Congress and Senate passed a record-breaking $2.1 trillion stimulus package in March, but the AHCA and the NCAL received no direct assistance from the bill, despite their extreme need. In a copy of the letter obtained by PopCulture.com, they highlight how severely their organizations have been impacted by COVID-19, and how badly they need help to care for vulnerable Americans. With lawmakers eyeing a much lower price cap on this next stimulus package, they say it is imperative that they receive funding for PPE, coronavirus testing and other supplies and services.
The letter is addressed to leaders from both parties in both the Senate and Congress, including Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. It is signed by NCAL executive director Scott Tittle, American Senior Housing Association president David Schless, LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan and Argentum CEO James Balda.
"We, the undersigned organizations write on behalf of the more than 2 million seniors and their front-line caregivers across 21,600 senior living communities," the letter reads. "We are writing to respectfully request that Congress prioritize the needs of the senior living industry, residents and front-line staff in the next federal legislative response package."
After describing the dire situation in assisted living facilities across the U.S., the letter makes six direct requests. It asks legislators to increase funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund and to give senior living communities priority access to PPE provided by federal assistance.
The letter also asks for the stimulus package to provide reimbursement for coronavirus testing for employees and residents of senior living facilities, arguing that frequent, reliable tests are essential to preventing fatal outbreaks in these homes. They are also asking that senior living employees be unequivocally included in any "Hero Pay" proposals, as they are on the front lines in one of the most dangerous parts of the pandemic.
The letter also requests expansion of the Small Business Loans Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, to include senior living facilities and ensure that they can stay afloat during this crisis. Finally, it asks that senior living facilities be given priority access to any COVID-19 vaccine that may be developed, both for vulnerable seniors and the workers who are frequently in contact with them.
The letter was sent to lawmakers on Thursday, July 16. As the new stimulus bill has not been revealed publicly yet, it is not clear whether or not any of these requests have been met. The bill is still being written by Sen. McConnell's office.