Florida Representatives on Capitol Hill Champion Bill to Protect Seniors During Pandemic

On Wednesday, three members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill showcased a bill to help protect seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., introduced the “Protecting the Health of America’s Older Adults During COVID-19 and Beyond Act.” The bill “would establish a National COVID-19 Resource Center for Older Adults under the leadership of the Secretary of Health and Human Services and create the Healthy Aging grant program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and Donna Shalala, D-Fla., are cosponsoring the bill. So is U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.

“Older adults represent a high-risk group for COVID-19 and have higher mortality and hospitalization rates than any other population. Currently, there is no centralized, coordinated federal entity to ensure that the needs of older adults during this pandemic are being addressed,” Frankel’s office insisted. “A National COVID-19 Resource Center for Older Adults would fill the gaps by fostering collaboration among sectors, including the identification and dissemination of evidence-based practices to assess the most vulnerable older adults, limit exposure of older adults and their caregivers to COVID-19, and better care for older adults who are infected. Additionally, the Healthy Aging Grant Program through the CDC would support local and state public health departments to promote older adult health and well-being, as well as provide resources to this vulnerable community.”

Frankel and the cosponsors weighed in on the bill on Wednesday.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has touched the lives of all Americans, our seniors are at the highest risk,” said Frankel. “This new legislation will establish the research, resources, and collaboration needed at the federal level to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep older Americans safe and healthy during this crisis.”

“Ensuring our seniors receive high quality healthcare during this pandemic and beyond is not only the right thing to do, it is financially prudent. I’m happy to join my colleagues in this bipartisan measure to achieve this moral imperative,” said Bilirakis.

“More than almost any other group, seniors face a high risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19,” said Shalala. “Creating a national resource center will not only help us to better coordinate our efforts to protect seniors, it will fortify our public health system and help us prepare for any future waves of this disease.”

“The pandemic has put a magnifying glass on cracks in our society. Older adults are experiencing isolation, loneliness, financial strain, barriers to access transportation, healthy food, and affordable, safe housing,” said Dingell. “A centralized and coordinated entity to ensure that the range of needs for older adults will provide for our seniors now and in the future. The health and well-being of older adults is critical.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce and the Education and Labor Committees last week. So far, there is no counterpart in the U.S. Senate.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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