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Congress, Don’t Hurt Seniors!

With Congress struggling to pass legislation that would help address Americans' day-to-day challenges, it's upsetting that some Senators and Representatives are considering overturning new rules crucial for safeguarding older Americans in nursing homes and protecting people's retirement savings.

But that's just what's happening. Let's start with retirement savings.

In April, the Department of Labor issued the Retirement Security rule to close legal loopholes allowing some financial advisors to make investment recommendations designed to increase their profits, not yours. This conflicted advice is estimated to cost retirement savers billions of dollars a year. This means that a typical retirement saver could lose up to $15,000 of their hard-earned money every year from bad advice. According to AARP research, a whopping 90% of adults age 50+ support requiring financial professionals to put their client's best interests before their own. Many are surprised that's not already the case!

Yet, under pressure from parts of the financial services industry, some members of Congress are considering overturning this rule. Although the President will likely veto the legislation, Congress could still overturn the rule if two-thirds of the Congress supports it.

Protections for seniors are also in the crosshairs in Congress, with some legislators taking their cue from the nursing home industry and considering legislation overriding a new rule that sets minimum staffing levels for nursing homes. Under the rule announced in April, nursing homes receiving funding through Medicare and Medicaid must provide a minimum number of staffing hours per resident daily. Facilities must ensure a registered nurse is on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Legislation is pending that could overturn this rule.

Implementing minimum staffing requirements in nursing homes is long overdue, and it's crucial to protecting the basic rights of residents to live in dignity and get the care they need. Without these basic standards, taxpayer dollars could continue flowing to facilities lacking sufficient staffing for quality care. The tragic consequences of understaffed facilities, exemplified by the 180,000 deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic, underscore the urgent need for better standards.

Ensuring nursing homes are adequately staffed enhances residents' quality of life and provides peace of mind to family caregivers. AARP's polling highlights the risk for members of Congress seeking reelection: Americans 50+ are 82% more likely to support a candidate for public office who supports safe, high-quality care through minimum nursing home staffing standards.

AARP is calling on our millions of members to urge Congress to prevent these critically important rules from being overturned. We're reaching out to them through emails, text messages, and phone calls and beyond them through advertising and blogs like this one. It is our responsibility to advocate for the protection of seniors in nursing homes and the protection of Americans trying to save for retirement by holding bad actors accountable, and we take it seriously.

For a Congress struggling to take action on the issues Americans care about, it would be deeply disappointing if they could count the demise of these much-needed rules among their accomplishments this year.

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