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Argentum Calls on Biden to Put Seniors First in Line for COVID Relief

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

With the close of the deadline for healthcare providers to apply for federal pandemic relief here, “Now Is the Time” for senior living residents and caregivers to receive targeted assistance.

Senior living advocates Argentum said momentum is building across the country for change in Washington, DC, and again urged the Biden Administration to reverse course and target COVID relief in the soon-to-be-closed Provider Relief Fund (PRF) for assisted living and memory care communities dedicated to protecting the lives of 2 million U.S. seniors.

Argentum represents 75% of U.S. senior living communities and has been conducting a nationwide “Don’t Leave Us Behind…Again” advocacy campaign since October to move the Biden White House off its position to refuse to prioritize assisted living and memory care in the PRF program. Holding some $17 billion in COVID relief for healthcare providers, the PRF’s latest and final phase will see the deadline for applications pass just before midnight on Nov. 3.

“Now that the PRF portal is closing, it is the Biden Administration that has the sole ability to finally correct the great inequity in relief that assisted living and memory care caregivers have received,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said.

“Argentum calls on the Administration to prioritize relief in this final phase of the PRF to assisted living frontline caregivers who have battled the COVID pandemic for close to two years. During that time, caregiver communities have amassed some $30 billion in financial losses and been awarded scant allocations of federal relied despite protecting the lives of seniors who have an average age of 85 in these care communities.”

While negotiations continue on the Build Back Better act (“human infrastructure”) and passage of the bipartisan (traditional) infrastructure legislation, the Administration can take executive action right now to change the way in which applications for the PRF are prioritized. As of today, healthcare providers not directly in the crosshairs of the COVID pandemic, like chiropractors, receive the same consideration as senior living caregivers.

The PRF prioritization for senior living is just one tranche of the Argentum “Don’t Leave Us Behind…Again” campaign. Starting last month with a letter to President Biden, the campaign has received media attention inside Washington, DC, and in targeted states. Op-eds have run, senior living communities have started to place banners and yard signs on their properties, residents and caregivers are writing letters-to-the-editor, digital ads are reaching policymakers in the nation’s capital, and campaign-themed billboards are in eyesight of key leaders, including President Biden.

Social media is also being deployed on Twitter at #DontLeaveUsBehindAgain, and other platforms. The time is now for the Biden Administration to listen to Americans who want change in Washington, DC, starting with equitable COVID relief for senior living.

An updated Argentum letter to President Biden asks for these common-sense steps:

  1. Target provider relief funds in Phase 4 disbursements. The current round of funding includes administrative flexibility, including the ability to target bonus payments based on the amount of services that providers furnish to Medicare patients. We ask that as application data is reviewed to determine a methodology for the Phase 4 payments, the significant number of Medicare beneficiaries who receive direct care as residents of senior living facilities is factored this into the bonus payments intended for providers serving seniors.

  2. Direct federal resources for booster administration. Without the federal vaccine program reconstituted, providers will need federal support and coordination to ensure vaccines are able to be administered as efficiently as possible so we may continue protecting our nation’s most frail seniors.

  3. Prioritize investments in long-term care in human infrastructure (reconciliation) negotiations. The proposed investments of $400 billion in care infrastructure are critical to meeting the growing demands in caring for our rapidly aging population. Specific investments should include a sustainability fund and development in the workforce, such as those proposed in the SENIOR Act, which will soon be introduced in Congress.

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