29 Jul The HEALS Act is Not What Older Adults Need
Earlier this week, Senate Republican leadership released its slate of bills for a long-overdue fourth COVID-19 response package. In comparison to the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House on May 15th, the Senate’s $1 trillion Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act ignores the most pressing needs of older adults, people with disabilities, and families living in poverty, who are hurting most during this crisis.
In addition, the HEALS Act includes dangerous proposals that Justice in Aging strongly opposes. First, it includes the misnamed “TRUST Act,” which does nothing to help people weather or recover from the pandemic. The bill would create a fast-track process to allow cuts to be made to the Social Security and Medicare programs behind closed doors under the guise of restoring “solvency” to the trust funds, and would do the exact opposite of what is actually needed—strengthening Medicare and expanding benefits to better serve the millions of older adults, people with disabilities, and their families who depend on Social Security to stay out of poverty.
Second, the HEALS Act would shield healthcare providers and other businesses from liability for COVID-19 illnesses and death. These provisions, which would give immunity to nursing facilities, excuse negligent care, and allow harm to residents to go unaddressed, would reward bad actors and remove incentives for facilities to comply with laws and regulations, eliminate one of the last remaining oversight protections for residents, place workers and communities at risk, and perpetuate racial disparities in health care.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious financial, mental, and physical harm throughout our country, we need Congress to provide significant support to the millions of older adults and their families who are struggling to maintain their economic security while staying safe and healthy.
Contact your Senators and tell them the HEALS Act is unacceptable!
Tell Your Senators the Next COVID-19 Relief Bill Must:
- Address systemic racism that is resulting in disproportionate harms to people of color, including older adults.
- Increase funding for Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) to keep people out of nursing homes and other institutions that are particularly dangerous right now.
- Provide additional stimulus payments and ensure that they are automatically available to everyone, including all SSI and VA benefit recipients, adult dependents and people who use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN).
- Expand housing supports and homelessness prevention.
- Increase SNAP benefits and enhance funding for senior legal services.
- Remove the TRUST Act from the package and instead pass the “Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act,” which would prevent cuts in Social Security benefits for those turning 60 in 2020 and expand benefits for those who need it most during the pandemic.
- Oppose corporate immunity, including immunity for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Call your Senators today at (202) 224-3121. Use the messages above and our fact sheet as talking points.
- Social Media toolkit. #WeAreEssential
- Justice in Aging Fact Sheet: What Older Adults Need from Congress
- The Arc’s online tool for individuals to contact their Members of Congress via email, phone, and social media
- National Council on Aging’s online tool for individuals to ask their Members of Congress to support Medicaid HCBS