Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

AARP is fighting to improve paid sick leave policies for California workers who are impacted by COVID-19; especially those family caregivers who are helping to keep their older loved ones out of hospitals and nursing homes.  Sufficient paid sick leave of up to 10 days must be available to all California workers:

•  SUPPORTING CAREGIVERS:  Family caregivers are the front line of defense to keep their loved ones out of hospitals or nursing homes. Across California, more than 4.7 million family caregivers provide critical assistance to their older parents, spouses, and other loved ones–most while also juggling full- or part-time jobs.  Family Caregivers contribute more than 4 billion hours of unpaid care each year, valued at approximately $63 Billion.

•  STAYING HOME when you or a loved one is sick should not mean losing your pay or even your job; especially during a public health emergency like COVID-19.

•  EXTRAORDINARY TIMES call for California leaders to do more. Utilize every tool available to make sure California workers, including family caregivers, have access to up to 10 days of paid sick leave per year during the COVID-19 emergency.

•  AARP IS ASKING us to contact our State Senator and our State Assembly Member and ask them to support the implementation of emergency paid leave through the state budget process.

AARP is also fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death. Ninety-five percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have occurred among people who were 50 or older.  Eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in people 65 and older, according to the latest demographic data available from the CDC.  Part of the reason risk increases with age is that people are more likely to have other health issues later in life, and underlying health conditions are a huge driver of complications that arise from COVID-19.  A June report from the CDC found that hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 were six times as high for patients with chronic health conditions, compared to otherwise healthy individuals; deaths among this population were 12 times as high.  We are being asked to contact our state representatives to enact legislation to get those covid vaccines to us sooner.

We need to let our Federal Representatives know that we want them to continue fighting for the ACCESS Act:  AARP is pleased to endorse the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act).  We appreciate the bipartisan leadership and commitment to improve access to virtual visitation for nursing home residents and their families during the coronavirus public health emergency.  During this frightening time, the health, safety, and well-being of people living in nursing homes, assisted living, and other residential care facilities is paramount, which is why it is so critical that they have the ability to virtually visit and communicate with their loved ones, including but not limited to if in-person visitation is restricted.  Expanding access to telehealth in nursing homes can also help ensure more efficient and effective access to care.  The ACCESS Act would provide $50 million to the Telehealth Resource Center Program to help facilitate the development of telehealth technologies for nursing homes.

Importantly, the legislation provides grants to nursing homes to support virtual visits and requires these facilities to ensure residents can access these visits and get the help they need to do so.  It is important to enable more residents and families to stay connected, including via video, both to help combat social isolation and to allow families to ensure their loved ones are being well cared for.

 Please stay informed and have a happy St Patrick’s Day!