US Treasury relief program checks
(Credit: Uladzimir Zuyeu / Getty Images)

Argentum is expressing “outrage” over a COVID-related $55 billion aid package for bars, bakeries and baseball that leaves out assisted living communities once again.

The senior living association said that passage of a federal COVID-19 relief package in the House of Representatives for restaurants, bars, gyms and sports teams while ignoring the frontline caregivers in assisted living communities is “like a bad skit for Saturday Night Live.”

The $55 billion aid package, passed in the House on Thursday, now heads to the Senate, where a rival package is under consideration.

The House bill would provide $42 billion to replenish an initial $28.6 billion fund for restaurants, food trucks, bars, caterers, brewpubs, bakeries and others affected by the pandemic. Another $13 billion would go to small businesses — regardless of industry — that lost at least 40% of their revenues during the pandemic, with grants capped at $1 million each, according to Roll Call.

“It is outrageous that the House takes this action and leaves seniors and their caregivers in assisted living behind yet again,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said. “We are urging our member communities to rise up and urge the Senate to reject this legislation unless targeted billions are also found to help senior living providers recover from their own deep COVID-19 losses”

Just last week, Balda wrote to Senate and House leaders, outlining an argument for support and relief of the senior living industry.

Although the senior living industry has “true anger” over the snub, Balda said, the silver lining in the House action is that there is $55 billion available to be spent on pandemic relief.

“We have been told time and again that there is no money,” Balda said. “Apparently, there is. The question is whether lawmakers can say with a straight face that keeping the corner bar and grill open is as important as protecting an 85-year-od great grandmother in her home and not kicking her to the curb.”

Balda noted that Congress has found “what amounts to trillions of dollars in taxpayer money” six times “to offer every sort of entity compensation and support to fight the coronavirus” — except senior living, which has only received one-twelfth of the relief received by nursing home operators.

The senior living industry, he added, has received assurances from lawmakers that something would be done to target aid to the industry, which has amassed more than $30 billion in losses over the course of the pandemic due to expenses related to increased wages, personal protective equipment and infection control.

The Senate COVID-19 relief package bill would set aside $8 billion for specific groups — including gyms and fitness centers, live entertainment venues, motorcoach and ferry operators, minor league sports teams, and small businesses cut off from customers and suppliers due to border closures — on top of $40 billion for restaurants, bars and other food service industry businesses, according to Roll Call.