Argentum’s SENIOR Act Legislation to be Introduced by Reps. Trahan and Fitzpatrick
This information is provided by national senior living association partner, Argentum.
Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) will introduce the SENIOR Act (Safeguarding Elderly Needs for Infrastructure and Occupational Resources).
This legislation came directly at Argentum’s request and addresses two critical issues through new federal appropriations: creating a senior living sustainability fund and expanding the senior caregiving workforce. The sustainability fund appropriates $10 billion to assisted living communities that demonstrate significant and uncompensated COVID-19 related losses due to direct senior care, similar to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), and the legislation increases the investment in existing HHS workforce development programs through four-year grants totaling $1 million per entity to help develop a geriatric care workforce. A bill number has not yet been assigned; in the interim you may review the legislative text and a summary of the bill.
The legislation is a direct result of our continued advocacy campaigns: Save the PRF (July 2021), Release the PRF (August-September 2021), and Don’t Leave Assisted Living Behind, Again (October 2021-present), where we placed billboards, yard signs, media, activated grassroots and grasstops outreach, and leveraged other campaign resources at key lawmakers to generate interest in targeting provider relief for assisted living. As a result of our continued efforts, along with our longstanding relationship with Representative Trahan and her office’s deep understanding of our COVID-19 issues, we were able to work directly with them on drafting this language to capture as many assisted living providers as possible, while being able to garner broad bipartisan support to increase its chances for consideration and eventual passage. We will be working closely with other lawmakers to increase support of the bill, drawing on months of advocacy informing Congressional offices on the urgent and specific needs of assisted living providers that have not been met in prior phases of the PRF or through other pieces of legislation.
Argentum will be leading an aggressive advocacy effort to increase co-sponsorship on this legislation and to draw interest in a potential Senate-companion. We held a briefing on the legislation for legislative staff earlier today, which included remarks by Representative Trahan. Our hope is that this bill can be attached to another large piece of legislation, such as the appropriations process or a modified version of the Build Back Better act should lawmakers renew those efforts.
These next few weeks will be critical for advancing this legislation and we will need everyone’s help in the following:
- Ask for support. Please reach out to all representatives that you are a constituent of or where you have communities in their districts, and urge them to support this bill by specifically referencing the challenges faced by providers in their state/district. A list of current House health care staffers is available here. If there are any offices missing, please let us know and we will track down the contact information.
- Leverage your relationships. Please reach out to any personal relationships you have with lawmakers or their staff, urging their support of this bill.
- Share your appreciation. As additional cosponsors are added to this legislation, please be sure to thank them if you are a constituent or have communities in their district to underscore the local importance of the legislation.
- Participate in, and share our grassroots letter. As with prior advocacy campaigns, we need as many letters as possible urging support of this legislation. Pre-written letters are available here that can be sent by any senior living advocate: a resident or their family member, a frontline or administrative staff member, or anyone else passionate about the residents we care for.
Additionally, as STAT News reported yesterday, the Biden Administration has shifted $17 billion from the PRF, essentially depleting the remaining funds. We are calling on the administration to replenish these funds so that they can be released and targeted to senior living providers. In this effort, we are continuing to support H.R. 5963, the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act, introduced last November by Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) that requires HHS to disburse remaining provider relief funds by March. If the funds are not replenished, it will be even more imperative for Congress to create a new source of funding with new dollars for senior living, such as the Sustainability Fund established in the SENIOR Act.
Argentum is also in the process of reviewing the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act), new discussion draft legislation released earlier this week by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), the respective chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The legislation is currently being shared as a discussion draft to review feedback over a 10-day period before it is formally introduced.