In recognition of the soaring demand for senior services during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced on Thursday the Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act.
The legislation would allocate more than $1.5 billion to the aging network to continue providing essential services, such as meal delivery, vaccine outreach and programming and caregiver support. More than 90% of Area Agencies on Aging across the nation report that they have served more clients since the pandemic began.
Kelly pointed out that the pandemic has disparately hurt Arizona’s seniors. “In a recent meeting with my Senior Citizen Advisory Group, I heard stories of seniors facing isolation, food insecurity, and issues both signing up for and getting to vaccine appointments. This emergency funding would address these issues by supporting programs and organizations that support Arizona seniors through food assistance, caregiving, transportation, and vaccine distribution.”
The legislation includes $480 million for vaccination outreach and other programming, $775 million for nutrition services, $44 million for evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion services, $145 million for caregiver support services, $75.5 million to carry out demonstrations and evaluations under the act, including funding to support multigenerational engagement, and $10 million for the long-term care ombudsman program. It is co-sponsored by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).