Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

It looks as if we will all get our covid stimulus checks, albeit smaller than anticipated. Thank the extra addendums, riders that were added to the original bill.  The president tried to get bigger checks, but here is what is in the bill:

  • Stimulus payments: Americans will receive up to $600 per child and adult.
  • Unemployment benefits:  Two expiring CARES Act programs were extended for another 11 weeks:  Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Compensation.
  • PPP:  The Payment Protection Program is given another $284 billion.
  • Housing evictions:  The moratorium for evictions was extended through the end of January.
  • Schools: The bill gives $82 billion to schools and colleges.
  • Testing:  The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing and $20 billion for health care providers.
  • Transportation:  $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for support of airlines, employees, and contractors, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for highways, $2 billion for intercity buses, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
  • Tax provisions:  There are a host of tax provisions, targeted both at individuals and businesses.

So, we have a lot to look forward to, including president-elect Biden being sworn in on January 20th.  

In practical terms, individuals, families, and communities should see relief in 2021 – from COVID with vaccines, from economic downturn with reenergized commerce, opportunities, and activities. 

At AARP, we have many more battles and challenges to look forward to.  AARP has and is continuing to address critical Nursing Home issues at the State and Federal Level. We are continuing to raise this issue at the state and national level as immediate action is needed to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

California’s Impact:  From October 2020 data, at least 6,159 nursing home and other long-term care facility residents and staff have died due to COVID-19, or 34% of California’s COVID-19 related deaths are from long-term care facilities (https://covidtracking.com/data/longertermcare).  More than 76% of California’s nursing homes had at least one confirmed resident COVID-19 case and at least 37.6% had at least one confirmed staff case.

AARP’s COVID19 Nursing Home Dashboard has demonstrated that deaths and cases are no longer declining as they did during the summer and in fact resident and staff cases are beginning to increase, presenting a considerable risk to nursing home residents, staff and to their families.

AARP Asks Members to:

  • Act NOW to ensure care facilities have adequate staffing, testing, and PPE they need to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Act NOW to include guardrails to ensure that taxpayer dollars provided to long-term care facilities are used towards items and services that directly relate to the health and safety of residents and staff.
  • Act NOW to take action to ensure facilities are required to report publicly on a daily basis demographic information if they have confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
  • Act NOW to take action to make virtual visitation available and facilitated as a safety measure between residents and their families.
  • Act NOW to reject blanket immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

Please call or write your state and local legislators to keep fighting for Nursing Homes!

Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

In early 2020, the CDC realized the most vulnerable Covid-19 population was senior citizens.  Despite advances in protocols, there are still two ways for seniors in nursing homes to get Covid: staff and visitors.

Testing nursing home visitors is important.  Current guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) restrict the number of visitors and focus on temperature checks and screening questionnaires, as well as observing for signs or symptoms of illness.

This may have been reasonable early on in the pandemic when any sort of a screen was better than no screen, but it’s insufficient now.  We have had point-of-care testing for months now, and more recently, rapid antigen tests that require no special lab equipment and no specialized storage.

Stronger mitigation measures for nursing home staff.  It is likely that infected staff are driving the rise in cases, as visitations are relatively restricted.  An AP report shows a proportionate increase in the number of staff cases and resident cases.  This is naturally difficult to control because the staff live in the community and work in the nursing homes.  Their job is vital.

The latest CMS guidance on staff testing frequency are intended to test often enough to detect cases early enough to stop transmissions from staff to residents.  Clearly that hasn’t been enough.  We need more targeted testing to detect early cases, and that has to be done every time someone leaves and reenters the nursing home.  No effort should be spared in procuring what is needed to test everyone going into a nursing home, whether visitor or staff.

Key to making this work: the FDA should lift restrictions requiring all tests be reviewed at a lab, so rapid tests that don’t need lab equipment can truly live up to their promise.

We need to make sure that our members of Congress understand our determination to keep everyone healthy in those facilities, we mean business, and we need them to pay immediate attention.

On another note, prescription drug prices in the U.S. are sky high and rising.  The Federal Government is beginning to work on securing lower drug prices and trying to ensure that America will no longer pay more than our peer nations for expensive prescription drugs.  We must let the Administration and Congress know that this is a top-tier priority for all seniors and that they must work together to address this critical need.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and 2021!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

With the elections finally over, we will see what the future has in store for us.  (And be ever so glad all those political ads are done!)  But we’re not done.  Now we have new issues to look at and fight for, or against; with ongoing issues, such as this one:

AARP is asking us to help with the Stop Rx Greed Campaign:  U.S. Health & Human Service’s Final Importation Rule –This is a message for members of Congress and Senators:

•  There’s no reason why Americans should pay the highest drug prices in the world while drug companies rake in billions.

•  AARP has long supported the safe importation of prescription drugs, which could lower prices for many people over 50.

•  Importation of prescription drugs is overwhelmingly supported by Americans across party lines, with support from 81% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats, and 85% of independents.

•  The safe, legal importation of less expensive prescription drugs will help stop price gouging and lower costs. It will also help break up drug company monopolies by adding competitive pressure on drug makers to lower the prices they set in the U.S.

•  While there are still several stages before any importation can occur, we are pleased, that for the first time, an HHS Secretary has certified that importation can be done safely.

•  AARP strongly supported bipartisan legislation in Florida, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, New Mexico, and New Hampshire to allow importation in those states.  It is critical that the Administration works closely with those states to allow those laws to take effect and to ensure that the policy makes prescription drugs both affordable and accessible to older Americans.

In order to help, we can write our Representatives and Senators:

https://action.aarp.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=7577. The importation of prescription drugs is only good for certain drugs, not all, and definitely insulin, because it is a biologic drug. We also need to allow all states to participate in this, not just a few.  Go to

https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2020/canada-drug-importation-ruling.html to read more.

On other fronts:

The Supreme Court will be busy.  New Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in as a Justice last month, could play a pivotal role in any post-election legal fights, and will take part when the court hears a challenge to the Affordable Care Act a week after the election.

Coronavirus Update, as of October 29:  Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 8,865,697, U.S. death toll: 227,774

For context: Three months ago today, 4,363,511 Americans had tested positive for the coronavirus and 149,407 had died. Please stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep a safe distance from everyone!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

With the last of the summer recess for Congress, and the Democratic and Republican conventions taking place, not a lot has happened, legislatively speaking.

But for those of us who are retired, or hoping to retire (soon), President Trump’s recent statements about eliminating Social Security’s current dedicated funding is cause for concern.  On August 8, 2020, President Trump said that he intended to “terminate the tax,” referring to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.  It’s a step that would, if taken in isolation, remove nearly 90% of funding for Social Security benefits, and thus likely pose a threat to the continued existence of those programs.

Because of coronavirus, the President had first wanted to defer the payroll taxes being taken out of workers’ paychecks, but he stated that, if elected, he would permanently cut the taxes by the end of the year.  A week later, President Trump finally suggested an alternate source, the general fund of government revenues, per Fox Business.

These sweeping statements come at a time when Americans 50+ are already on edge about their financial and retirement security.  We cannot cut Social Security funding without a strong plan in place, otherwise we endanger the benefits that Americans have paid into their whole lives.

We need to take action by writing or calling the President, asking him to explain his statements and let us know, exactly how this would work.  Copy the link below into a new browser window and email President Trump today.  Ask him to explain his recent statements about eliminating Social Security’s current dedicated funding.


Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Flex those dialing and writing fingers!  We need to let our Federal Representatives (Lofgren, Khanna and Eshoo) as well as Senators (Feinstein and Harris) know that they need to address nursing homes issues now!

HR1425 – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act passed the House and now moves into the Senate. Let Senators know they need to vote ‘Yes’ and support this bill. This bill provides funding for the Improve Health Insurance Affordability Fund.  States must use allocated funds to assist insurers or individuals with exceedingly high claims.

Our State Senators (Hill and Beall) also have their work cut out for them – and it’s our job to make sure they do theirs!  They, too, need to address nursing home issues. There are several nursing home related bills that we want them to support:

SB1207 — Nursing Home Resident Safety Act of 2020.

AB2377 — Adult Residential Facilities: Closures and Resident Transfers.

SB1383 – California Paid Family Leave – Job Protections.

AB3216 – California Paid Sick Leave – Public Health Emergency.

SB 1383 would allow employees who work for a company with five or more workers to be eligible for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Currently, only companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide 12 weeks of leave to care for a family member.

AB 3216 would provide vital job protections for CA employees impacted by COVID-19 — specifically, by allowing workers to take extended job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member affected by COVID-19, including a family member whose school or care facility is closed due to COVID-19; worker retention and recall rights for certain service employees; and additional paid sick leave during a state of emergency. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the pandemic is “one big wave”, rather than a seasonal thing. So, once we get the vaccines, we should be good. The researchers are confident we will have a safe and effective vaccine; however, it will take time.  Some experts are predicting it may be next summer before we have a working vaccine.  So, keep safe, wear masks, keep your social distance, wash your hands frequently and get tested if you can. We may be here a while, waiting….

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Thirty-seven percent of the nation’s fatalities from Covid-19 occurred among residents and staff in long-term care facilities.  In 15 states, long-term care accounted for more than half of all Covid-19 deaths.  This has become a terrifying time for the 1.3 million Americans living in these facilities and their families.  Congress and the Administration must take urgent action to protect the health and safety of residents, staff and the surrounding community.  This is a matter of life and death.

This is why we need to contact our Federal Representatives:  Senators Feinstein and Harris, as well as Representatives Rho Khanna, Anna Eshoo, and Zoe Lofgren, to ask them support and vote in favor of the ACCESS ACT (HR 6487/S 3517).  This bill will allow the staff of nursing homes to have access to telehealth services and obtain technologies to allow virtual visits during the public health emergency relating to an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), and for other purposes.

Also, the Nursing Home Covid-19 Protection & Prevention Act (HR 6972/S 3768), by our CA Representative Anna Eshoo, is important in that it provides better access for families and ensures better care for patients in nursing homes.  Please thank Rep. Eshoo for her leadership and offer your support.  Please also call your Member of Congress (if it is not Rep. Eshoo) to urge their support, along with Senators Feinstein and Harris.

There are now 12 Covid-19 symptoms to watch out for (the list grows):  fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, (new) loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

President Trump will continue to support Covid-19 testing sites.  Many states have decided to “pause” their reopening plans in light of the spikes in coronavirus cases.  And Texas has become the new epicenter for Covid-19.  So, stay healthy; wear your mask!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Nursing homes continue to be a hotbed for the COVID-19 infection.  AARP members are being asked to contact their Federal Representatives, State Senators, & State Assembly Members to Implement a 3-point plan to improve conditions in America’s Long-Term Care Facilities, which must

(1)  Have the personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing they need to identify cases and prevent the spread of the virus, as well as adequate staffing to provide care.

(2)  Be transparent by reporting publicly on a daily basis whether they have confirmed COVID-19 cases; and provide residents and families information when loved ones are discharged or transferred out of their room or facility.

(3)  Make available and facilitate virtual visitation as a safety measure between residents and their families.

We also need to urge our State Representatives to support the Governor’s Paid Family Leave Budget Trailer bill language:  AARP is fighting to improve paid leave policies for California workers who must care for adult loved ones, some of whom have been impacted by COVID-19.

  • Paid family leave with job protections must be available to all California workers.
  • Family caregivers are on the front lines battling to keep their loved ones out of hospitals or nursing homes.
  • Family caregivers help older loved ones with medications and medical care, bathing and dressing, meals, chores and much more.
  • Across California, more than 4.7 million family caregivers provide critical assistance to help their older parents, spouses, and other loved ones remain living in their homes — most while also working full- or part-time.  They contribute more than 4 billion hours of unpaid care each year, valued at approximately $63 billion.

And last, but not least, we need to tell our State Assembly Members and State Senators to OPPOSE the harmful cuts to programs serving older Californians in the state budget. This is the wrong approach to take at a time when older Californians are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than the rest of the population.

Meanwhile, we are getting closer every day to a vaccine for COVID-19.  Please, please, DO NOT use hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus – studies have shown it to cause serious side effects, including death.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

While Congress has been working, the state legislature went into recess about a month ago.  They are supposed to come back in early May.  There will be a big shortfall in revenues here in California, meaning that we may have a budget deficit.  Because of the COVID pandemic, the focus for the legislature will be on COVID response, retaining current funding in the state budget (not increases) and preparation for wildfire season.

President Trump signed a reauthorization of The Older Americans Act on Wednesday, April 22nd.  This law provides much needed money for programs like meals on wheels and family caregiver support.

With all that said, advocacy is continuing in a virtual manner.  If you are so inclined, you can take the following actions:

Federal Representative:

  • Thank your member of Congress and Senators (Harris and Feinstein) for passing the Older Americans Act & CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).  You can do this by calling their local offices.

State Senator & Assembly Member:

  • Ask your local Senator and Assembly Member to support our Paid Leave Act.  We are requesting broader terms than what we shared in February because it includes both Paid Sick Leave AND Paid Family Leave.  The Families-First Coronavirus Response Act, that President Trump signed back in March, has gaps that need to be filled; and this ask to Governor Newsom, would take care of that, ensuring that all workers are entitled to job-protected leave and wage-replacement benefits to weather this unprecedented crisis.

With 1,156,278 confirmed COVID-19 cases, nearly 170,201 people in America have reported full recoveries from COVID-19.  Even so, the US hits a grim milestone:  Almost 70,000 people have died of COVID-19, and the global pandemic shows few signs of slowing as pressure mounts to reopen parts of our economy.

Support is building among Republicans for reopening the economy sooner rather than later, but not all GOP lawmakers are on the same page.  Many believe we may be better off waiting another month, giving the scientists enough time to come up with vaccines and antivirals.  And while some governors are already chomping at the bit to open up early, others, like the governor from New Mexico, are looking at May 15th or later, before lifting the lockdown.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Congress passed an $8.3 billion spending bill that prioritizes delivering care for patients, and developing treatments and vaccines to combat the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID-19. The coronavirus funding bill signed into law by the President on March 6th, puts much more money toward treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 than his administration requested from Congress the week before.

As we learn more about COVID-19, data shows that it hits older adults particularly hard.  Coronaviruses are not something new. They have been around a long time, usually feeling like a common cold. This version is what’s new.  Discovered in 2019, Covid-19 causes upper-respiratory tract infections and can be deadly to people with compromised immune systems and older people.

So, what do taxpayers get for that $8.3B?  Here are some highlights:

  • $3.1B for the Health and Human Services, with monies to be put toward therapeutic development, vaccine development, and to purchase additional supplies like masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • $300M to buy vaccines and treatments.
  • $1.25B for international activities, responding to the spread of coronavirus worldwide.

On March 27, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package was signed into law.  The legislation will put money in the pockets of many Americans during the pandemic.  Here are some situational highlights:

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S has surpassed all other countries.
  • AARP advocated to Congress to support policies that benefit the health and financial well-being of older Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A bipartisan reauthorization of the Older Americans Act provides more money for programs helping older Americans age in their homes and communities through services, including Meals on Wheels, family caregiver support and transportation.

In California, AARP provided some specific recommendations to the Governor’s Office and his outreach strategy team, which included creating a mailer with resources and phone numbers important for older adults and their caregivers.  Governor Gavin Newsom subsequently announced the launch of a new initiative to help the 3.5 million Californians over the age of 65 stay connected while they stay at home during the novel coronavirus outbreak.  He said the statewide initiative will help seniors through various nonprofits, local governments, and CERT teams.

  • California has launched a hotline to deliver services and help for older Californians. The phone number for the hotline is 1-833-544-2374.
  • In addition, to help people deal with loneliness and isolation, he’s asking people to make five phone calls to reach their neighbors, not just family members.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

On the Federal level, HR 1230 POWADA (Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act) – passed the House. We need to thank our Federal Representatives for voting in favor of it.  Our Representatives, Khanna and Lofgren, should be thanked for their leadership by co-sponsoring HR 1230 along with 90 other Representatives.  We appreciate their support for all of our older workers.  Now onto the Senate.  The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. We need to let our Senators know how we feel as soon as it comes out of the committee!  Keep an eye on it.  The committee has some good Senators on it, including Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

Our State Senators have also been busy, HOWEVER, SB 50 – Planning & Zoning – Housing Development (addressing affordable housing concerns, especially for older adults) failed on the Senate floor.  We still need to thank our Senators, Beall & Monning, for their Aye vote and hard work in trying to get it passed and let them know we hope we can count on their continued support on this issue in the future.

With the latest criticism of President Trump’s policy on the coronavirus, all I can say is, stay healthy out there!  (And Happy St Patrick’s Day!)  We will have more news in April, now that the sessions are all under way and getting some steam up!