The U.S. Capitol building

As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers a possible distribution of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds, LeadingAge and 10 faith-based organizations are urging Congress to develop a national plan that prioritizes older adults in COVID-19 relief efforts.

In a July 28 letter to leaders in Congress and the Trump administration, the aging and disability service associations and providers joined together, calling the pandemic a “full-fledged crisis” that only will worsen. The groups collectively represent more than 5,000 senior living and long-term care providers from a variety of faiths and denominations, including Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, Methodists, Mennonites, United Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian and Quakers.

Together they urged lawmakers to “immediately deliver the leadership, resources and support needed to ensure the health and well-being of millions of people facing special danger from the pandemic.”

“Today we are coming together to urge you to find common ground, and deliver the life-saving relief we need to continue fulfilling our historic role in the lives of so many Americans,” the letter read. “We are aligned in our ardent belief that the actions you, as leaders of our country, take in the next weeks will determine the life and death of many of our nation’s most vulnerable older adults.”

Based on the “five essential actions” identified by LeadingAge, the group asked for immediate access to personal protective equipment and rapid-results testing, additional funding for COVID-19-related expenses, and “hero pay” and support for frontline workers.

“A powerful faith tradition flows through LeadingAge’s members,” said Katie Smith Sloan, the association’s president and CEO. “It is in that faith tradition that I am appealing to federal officials and legislators, regardless of their political or religious affiliations, to act decisively to save us, to save tens of thousands of lives.”

Signing the letter were representatives from the Association of Jewish Aging Services, the Council for Health & Human Service Ministries, the Friends Services Alliance, Mennonite Health Services, the Presbyterian Association of Homes & Services for the Aging, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, Lutheran Services in America, the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and the United Methodist Association of Health & Welfare Ministries.

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