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Legislative Bulletin: Connect with Lawmakers in the Continued Fight Against COVID-19

May 8, 2020

Connect with Lawmakers in the Continued Fight Against COVID-19

LeadingAge New York is meeting remotely with Senate and Assembly Health Committee Chairs and senior staff to ensure they understand the substantial challenges that our members are facing. Additionally, on Monday, we sent a letter to the Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Howard Zucker, highlighting the persistent need for improved testing, more PPE and challenges around staffing and cohorting.

LeadingAge NY will continue to advocate and support our members in every way we can, however, it is vital that lawmakers hear directly from you before a potential return to legislative work. Although this time is exceedingly difficult, it poses a unique opportunity to show lawmakers the hard work that you are doing now, and are always doing, to keep residents healthy, happy and safe.

We need lawmakers to understand the situation that long-term care providers are in as you work to protect vulnerable seniors from COVID-19. We strongly encourage members to educate lawmakers directly about your organization’s challenges and what you are seeing on the front lines.

Pease call lawmakers today and share your story! Click here to find your legislator’s contact information. While on the phone, you can discuss the following issues that may or may not be impacting your specific organization:

  • Inadequate supply of patient protective equipment (PPE)
  • Overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients
  • Staffing shortages
  • Cohorting challenges (not having enough staff, COVID units are full, etc)
  • Current financing challenges and the need for financial support
  • Reactive policy making from the Executive and Department of Health
  • The inability to get answers and clarification in a timely manner

In your conversations with legislative offices, make sure you are clear and speaking specifically to your organization’s situation and what your biggest issues are in the fight against coronavirus.

In addition to your phone calls, please take a moment to send your lawmakers the following letters:

Thank you for your advocacy efforts during this unprecedented time! It will make all the difference in providers receiving the support they need!

 

Still No Plan for the Legislature’s Return to Work

With only 10 scheduled session days remaining on the legislative calendar, it is increasingly unclear when and if the Legislature will return to legislative work. A group of lawmakers and Common Cause New York held a press conference on Thursday urging legislative leaders to resume session remotely "as soon as possible."

Lawmakers wrapped up the state budget at the beginning of April by voting mostly remotely. Since then, there have been many new bills introduced focused on the response to COVID-19. One of several lawmakers attending the press conference was Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “There are a number of urgent bills that can help our communities”, said the Senator. “It is our job as public servants to fight for the rights and safety of the people we represent. We must let the legislators legislate."

While there is plenty of legislative work to be done, there will also be residual budget work. Because the FY 2020-21 State Budget was passed amid a public health crisis and State of Emergency, the final budget granted certain flexibilities in spending to prepare for unpredictable revenue and added emergency costs. Now, it is possible that major budget cuts will be announced in the next two weeks, due to a massive $10 billion to $15 billion budget deficit. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have control over these cuts, but the Legislature does have the option to come back and make changes if they choose.

 

Contact Congress Today and Demand COVID-19 Relief for Affordable Senior Housing

Right now, Congress is working on its next set of COVID-19 relief bills for aging services providers. Affordable Senior Housing communities have been hard hit by coronavirus and we need your help in asking Congress to provide needed funds and resources for providers of affordable senior housing.

Please click here to send a letter to Congress, urging them to support a $1.202 billion package of relief funds for affordable senior housing in the next COVID-19 relief package.

In addition, we encourage affordable senior housing providers to contact Senator Schumer’s office directly with this request. His office contact information can be found here.

While on the phone, members can reference the following talking points:

  • Please support a $1.202 billion package of relief funds for affordable senior housing in the next COVID-19 relief package, including:
  • $845 million COVID-19 costs for services, staffing, disinfecting, PPE, etc. Funds from the March 27 CARES Act will begin to make up for lost tenant rent revenue, not help pay for other related costs.
  • $300 million for Service Coordinators, both to support existing Service Coordinators and to get new ones for the half of senior housing communities that do not have one.
  • $50 million for wireless internet installation and service fees in resident units and in the community’s common spaces. The lack of internet access slowed efforts to combat social isolation, engage residents with telehealth, and connect residents to needed supports.
  • $7 million for a one-year extension of HUD’s Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing demonstration, whose funding for wellness nurses and Service Coordinators is set to end on September 30 without congressional action.

 

Positive Advocacy in Action

Fortunately, in these tumultuous times, we have seen glimmers of hope and gratitude for the crucial care that long-term care organizations continue to provide. Last week, Congressman Anthony Brindisi sent letters to nursing homes in his district, thanking the leadership and staff for the hard work they are doing. The letter reads, “your selfless work during this time shows your compassion and bravery and you deserve our unending gratitude.” The Congressman continued by declaring his commitment to getting facilities the resources and equipment they need to stay safe.

This demonstration of gratitude was well deserved! It also shows the power of connecting and building relationships with lawmakers, even in this unusual time.

 

Provider Relief Fund Attestation Deadline Extended

Providers who receive payment from the Provider Relief Fund established by the federal CARES Act are required to sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds, agree to the terms and conditions and provide some additional information.  The originally announced requirement that this be done within 30 days of receipt of funds has been extended to 45 days.  That makes the deadline May 24 for those receiving funding on the first day it was distributed (i.e., April 10th).

 

LeadingAge & LeadingAge NY Coronavirus Resources

LeadingAge NY is closely following all COVID-19 news and doing our best to keep members informed of updates, recommendations and guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH). We encourage members to keep an eye out for email updates as well as visit our Coronavirus Resources page for the latest news and guidance. We also have re-organized our Member Q&A website so members can more easily navigate and search by service line. 

LeadingAge NY is hosting COVID-19 Weekly Update calls, which are held on Mondays from 11 am – 12 pm. You can click here to join the call from your computer, android or apple device. Or you can join the call by dialing in: 877 853 5257 (Toll Free); Webinar ID: 852 964 255.

Additionally, LeadingAge NY has developed a compendium of federal and state COVID-19 guidance specific to nursing homes or of a general nature, arrayed by topic in reverse chronological order. We will be updating this document frequently so members can easily find the most recent and relevant guidance.

LeadingAge National is also providing helpful resources to keep members informed of the latest. National resources include:

 

Contact: Ami Schnauber; 518.867.8854; aschnauber@leadingageny.org

               Sarah Daly; 518.867.8845; sdaly@leadingageny.org