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.