President Trump’s remark Thursday that seniors are being taken “very special care of” is “false,” and federal government efforts “far short of what’s needed to protect the most vulnerable Americans from the coronavirus,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said.
“The time for talk, symbolism and proclamations has passed. It’s time for action from the White House and Congress,” she said.
Sloan, American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson and Argentum President and CEO James Balda were among those invited to the White House on Thursday, when Trump announced the formation of a Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes, the upcoming shipment of two weeks’ worth of personal protective equipment to each of the country’s 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes, and other news.
Parkinson sounded a more positive note than Sloan, calling the plan announced Thursday “an important first step forward to ensure long-term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis.” Balda urged the administration “not to overlook senior living communities.”
Sloan noted that LeadingAge represents providers across the full continuum of aging services, not just nursing homes.
“For the millions of other older Americans being cared for outside of nursing homes — in assisted living, HUD-assisted housing for low-income older adults, life plan communities, hospices, and in our homes and communities — the government offered practically nothing today. Nothing,” she said. “There is no comprehensive support for aging services providers across the continuum of care. There is no action or movement on a $100 billion emergency relief fund for aging services providers or the Heroes Fund legislation providing resources for workers on the front line.”
Long-term care facilities, Parkinson said, “face an uphill battle in stopping this virus,” adding, however, that “it is not too late to turn this difficult situation around.” He also called for attention to be paid to assisted living communities in addition to nursing homes.
“What we need now is for everyone to rally around nursing homes and assisted living communities the same way we have around hospitals,” he said. “And that means continuing our focus on testing, PPE, staffing and funding just as healthcare providers have received. We will continue to work with local, state and federal health officials to ensure all possible actions are taken to keep our nation’s long-term care residents safe.”
Argentum’s Balda said the organization was “grateful” that the Trump administration’s actions were “shining a light on the urgent needs of our seniors and the heroic work being done every day to protect and care for them” but that “there is much more that needs to be done for senior living communities,” referring to assisted living, independent living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities.
“Like nursing homes, senior living communities have critical needs right now, including expanded testing, PPE and financial relief so that they can continue safeguarding the nearly 2 million seniors who reside in our communities and the nearly 1 million employees who work in them,” Balda said. “We are urging the administration not to overlook senior living communities, which are a critical part of the healthcare continuum and are acting right now as a critical backstop to hospitals. We will continue working with the Trump administration, including HHS, and state and local governments, to ensure that senior living communities continue to be prioritized for these vital resources.”
Editor’s Note: Screen still, above, taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIL2JjGuemc
Updated May 1 to include comments from James Balda.