President-elect Joe Biden detailed the first of two relief proposals at a speech in Delaware Thursday evening.
“We cannot afford inaction,” Biden said in announcing his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. “It’s not just that smart fiscal investments are more important than ever … the return on those investments, in jobs, in racial equity, will prevent long-term economic damage and the benefits will far outweigh the cost.”
The plan includes an initiative to “protect vulnerable populations in congregate settings,” which would include critical funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, as well as protections for frontline workers in the form of standards, paid emergency and sick leave requirements and benefits. Biden also has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as increasing the federal, per-week unemployment benefit to $400 and extending it through the end of September. Yet some long-term care industry leaders say the proposal doesn’t go far enough in its support for the industry and its seniors.
“We urge the new administration and Congress to add another $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund, as was passed in the HEROES Act last year, and dedicate a substantial portion of this fund to long-term care,” American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson said. “Our providers are on the brink, with exhausted staff and hundreds of facilities threatening to close. We must rally around our healthcare heroes and seniors in long-term care.”
LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan added that experience has taught the industry that “the devil is in the details.”
“Only if these plans provide relief without creating new burdens will the incoming administration effectively protect lives,” Sloan said.