The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, commends President-elect Biden for making older Americans a priority in his plan to combat the pandemic—but is calling for additional bipartisan action in the first 100 days to address their urgent health and financial needs.
“Older Americans—especially women and people of color—have been the hardest hit during this pandemic, yet they have remained largely invisible,” said NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin. “COVID-19 has laid bare our nation’s long-standing inequities based on age, race, gender, and income. It has created an even greater urgency to enact solutions now that enable every American to age with health, security, and dignity.”
NCOA supports President-elect Biden’s call for a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to address these disparities, as well as a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check for local transmission.
“These are important steps in the right direction, but much more is needed to keep our older family, friends, and neighbors healthy and safe,” Alwin said.
NCOA is urging incoming leaders to act on three priorities:
1. Ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine
Eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been people aged 65+, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Older adults—especially people of color and those with lower incomes—must be prioritized to get the vaccine safely as soon as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. NCOA will advocate for widespread education about the vaccine.
2. Expand job training and unemployment insurance
Unemployment rates for workers aged 55+ have remained higher than those of mid-career workers throughout the entire pandemic—the first time since 1973 that this has happened for more than 6 months, according to The New School Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. Older adults must have wider access to job training and placement programs to enable them to reenter the workforce quickly. NCOA will advocate for expanded funding for programs, such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program, as well as continued unemployment insurance for workers of all ages.
3. Strengthen the social safety net for all Americans
Even before the pandemic, over 25 million Americans aged 60+ were economically insecure, living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. The economic impacts of COVID-19 have deepened this crisis, especially among women and people of color. NCOA will advocate for protecting and strengthening critical programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and others that provide the supports older adults deserve to stay healthy and financially secure in their own homes, not institutions.
“There is no time to waste because lives are at risk,” Alwin said. “We know there are solutions, and we look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to make them a reality.”
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well.