Given the seriousness of the COVID-19 epidemic and its impact on seniors living in poverty, we are actively engaging with policymakers at every level to ensure their responses are prioritizing those at greatest risk of illness and death.
We have launched a new webpage with Justice in Aging’s actions and to provide the most relevant resources to advocates for low-income older adults.
Here’s what we’re watching in Washington:
Social Security Announces Suspension of Continuing Disability Reviews & Overpayment Collections
On Wednesday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that is has suspended continuing disability reviews (CDRs), processing of new overpayments “where possible,” and organization and individual representative payee accountings. According to SSA, these processes and other processes are on hold until further notice. Justice in Aging is working to get more details from SSA on these suspensions and many other issues and will provide more details as we get them.
President Signs Second Covid-19 Response Bill, Congress Negotiating Third Package
On Wednesday, Congress passed and the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which starts to address a number of immediate priorities including free COVID-19 testing, increased federal funding for state Medicaid programs, unemployment insurance enhancements, limited paid leave, expanded nutrition assistance through SNAP and programs for older adults, people with disabilities, and Native Americans. Unfortunately, the bill does not directly address the most pressing needs for older adults and others who are at greatest risk from COVID-19. Specifically, it does not extend paid leave to family caregivers who need to care for aging loved ones or adult family members with disabilities.
Justice in Aging led a letter to Congress demanding it take immediate and ongoing drastic measures to protect the lives of the 105 million older adults and people with underlying health conditions who are at greatest risk. Our letter includes specific recommendations that we urge Congress to address in the third package. Several of these recommendations, such as extra funding for Medicaid HCBS and easing access to Medicare Savings Programs, are included in the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (S. 3544) that Senator Casey introduced. Another bill introduced by Senator Murray (S. 3513) would ensure paid leave for family caregivers who have to take care of adult family members. We are also working with members of Congress on more bills to directly address older adults’ needs.
CMS Begins Approving Section 1135 Waivers
Now that the President has declared a national emergency, the Department of Health & Human Services can begin approving state applications for waivers under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. Several states have submitted applications and at least two have been approved in Florida and Washington. See this CMS FAQ for more information.