Take residents off the menu, put aid on the table, Argentum says as House passes $55bn aid package

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(Credit: Uladzimir Zuyeu/Getty Images)

Argentum is expressing “outrage” at a $55 billion COVID-related relief package for bars, bakeries and baseball that is again leaving out assisted living communities.

The senior citizens’ association said passing a federal COVID-19 relief package in the House of Representatives for restaurants, bars, gyms and sports teams while ignoring frontline caregivers in the assisted living communities is “like a bad skit for Saturday Night Live”.

The $55 billion aid package, passed in the House on Thursday, is now heading to the Senate, where a rival program is under consideration.

The House bill would provide $42 billion to replenish an initial $28.6 billion fund for restaurants, food trucks, bars, caterers, breweries, bakeries and others affected by the pandemic . Another $13 billion would go to small businesses — regardless of industry — that have lost at least 40% of their revenue during the pandemic, with grants capped at $1 million each, according to Roll Call.

“It is outrageous that the House is taking this step and yet again leaving behind the elderly and their caregivers in assisted living,” said Argentum President and CEO James Balda. “We urge our member communities to rise up and urge the Senate to defeat this legislation unless targeted billions are also found to help senior living providers recover from their own deep losses related to COVID-19”

Just last week, Balda wrote to Senate and House leaders, outlining a case for support and relief for the senior living industry.

Although the senior living industry has “genuine anger” about the snub, Balda said, the bright side of the House action is that there is $55 billion available to spend on the pandemic relief.

“We were told time and time again that there was no money,” Balda said. “Apparently there are. The question is whether lawmakers can say bluntly that keeping the local bar and grill open is as important as protecting an 85-year-old great-grandmother in her home and not putting her out on the street.

Balda noted that Congress has found “what amounts to trillions of dollars in taxpayers’ money” sixfold “to offer all kinds of entities compensation and support to fight the coronavirus” – except for life for the elderly, which received only one-twelfth of the relief received by operators of retirement homes.

The retirement home industry, he added, has been assured by lawmakers that something will be done to target aid to the industry, which has racked up more than $30 billion in losses in the past. during the pandemic due to expenses related to increased salaries, personal protective equipment and infection control.

The Senate COVID-19 relief package bill would earmark $8 billion for specific groups – including gyms and fitness centers, live entertainment venues, bus and ferry operators, minor league sports teams and small businesses cut off from customers and suppliers due to border closures — in addition to $40 billion for restaurants, bars and other businesses in the foodservice industry, according to Roll Call.

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