As each day passes, the devastating impact that the pandemic is having on Americans who live and work in nursing homes and other care facilities is becoming more and more clear. According to news reports, more than 16,000 COVID-19 deaths -- about a quarter of the national total -- have been residents and staff of long-term care facilities. This is appalling, and a persistent lack of transparency is compounding the anxiety of family members who are unable to visit their loved ones. Until recently, there was no federal requirement for nursing homes to report coronavirus outbreaks and COVID-19 deaths, making it impossible to understand the true scope of the problem and what steps need to be taken to protect residents and staff.
As COVID-19 continues to take a toll on communities across the country, AARP is more committed than ever to hearing from and addressing the concerns of Americans age 50 and up. We are connecting with older adults through our call center, social media channels, and well-attended national and state tele-town halls to learn more about what’s on their minds and how we can help. Here’s a summary of what we’re hearing along with some insights from public opinion surveys.
Now more than ever, older Americans are counting on AARP to fight for their health and economic security. The coronavirus crisis is putting older Americans and their families at risk, straining our health care system, and upending our economy as well as people’s personal finances. At this time of tremendous need, I’m proud to say that AARP is advocating tirelessly on behalf of our members and broader constituency in the halls of Congress, at the White House and federal agencies, and in state capitols across the country.
Everywhere we turn, we see advice from doctors and public health experts about protecting yourself from the coronavirus and what to do if you start showing symptoms. But what if you are one of the more than 40 million Americans with a loved one who depends on you for care? For family caregivers, this pandemic poses even more questions, and AARP has some answers.
These are anything but ordinary times. The coronavirus pandemic threatens the health of millions around the world and is upending how we work, how our children learn, and what we do to stay connected with friends and family, relax, and have fun. In this rapidly changing environment, I can tell you with certainty one thing that will not change. As we have for more than sixty years, AARP will continue to promote the health and well-being of older Americans.
Family caregiving is no longer a personal issue—it is now a bipartisan public policy issue. We’ve been saying it since 2017, but if you’re still not convinced, we’d like to bring several states’ legislative agendas to your attention. In the 2020 legislative session, we have seen a notable upswing in paid leave proposals. Paid leave for employees has been an increasingly hot topic in the past few years at the federal and state level, but the activity we are now seeing in the states marks a real turning point in this debate.
The January/February issue of the AARP Bulletin features a cover story on a pressing and pervasive issue for older Americans – age discrimination in the workplace. More than 50 years after Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, older workers continue to face age-related bias on the job, receiving fewer promotions and training opportunities, being targeted for harassment or losing their jobs involuntarily when an employer makes cuts based on seniority.
The rising cost of health care has been – and continues to be – an ongoing subject of political debate. More important, it is the topic of conversations at kitchen tables across the country. Every day, millions of Americans are struggling to pay for insurance premiums and copays, prescription drugs and treatments, medical equipment, and long-term care while still putting food on the table, covering the mortgage or rent, and paying the bills. Americans with high health care costs can get some measure of relief by taking the medical expense deduction when they file their taxes. But, unless Congress takes action, 4.4 million Americans who are sick and count on this deduction to afford their medical bills will face higher taxes next year.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a community listening session hosted by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors here in Washington, DC. This was one in a series of “Fed Listens” events around the country that bring together business and non-profit leaders, academics and other stakeholders to share their thoughts on how the Fed’s policies and practices impact different constituencies. At a time when economic anxiety is high and trust in many of our national institutions is shaky, I am especially appreciative when the organizations that help manage our money… or in this case the nation’s money supply... take steps to be more accessible and responsive to the people they serve.
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