Capitol building

COVID-19-related costs could approach $10 billion to $20 billion for the senior living industry, so lawmakers should not forget such companies as they negotiate a bill potentially topping $2 trillion in aid for citizens and businesses in response to the pandemic, the presidents of Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association told Senate and House leaders in a March 18 letter.

“Although many sectors of the economy (and the economy as a whole) are suffering under the current crisis, none are more directly affected than the senior living industry, which is on the front-lines of this battle, protecting the segments of the population who are in the most danger from COVID-19,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda and ASHA President David Schless told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Fighting the pandemic, the senior living industry has incurred costs in categories such as workforce, supplies, occupancy and operations, Balda and Schless said. Legislative relief, they added, should include financial support of workers’ need for safe and reliable child care and also should reimburse operators of independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities for financial outlays associated with COVID-19 containment costs, perhaps in the form of an additional refundable payroll tax.

“If senior living fails, and can no longer care for this at-risk population, the nation’s ability to curtail this pandemic will be impacted and could potentially threaten the health of many millions of America’s seniors,” Balda and Schless said.