Senator Kelly and Colleagues Introduce New Bill to Fund Arizona Senior Services during COVID-19

Legislation would support meal delivery, vaccine outreach, caregiver aid

Today, Senator Mark Kelly joined Senators Bob Casey and Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing the Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act to ensure continued federal support for Arizona seniors. This legislation would allocate more than $1.5 billion to the aging network to continue providing essential services, such as meal delivery, vaccine outreach and programming, and caregiver support. Demand for senior services has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 93 percent of Area Agencies on Aging across the country reporting that they have served more clients since the pandemic began.

Kelly is a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and this monthmet with his Senior Citizens Advisory Group, made up of leading seniors advocates from across the state who are advising him on issues facing Arizona seniors. And last week, Kellyagain volunteered with Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona delivering prepared meals and seeing firsthand how their services are supporting Arizona seniors during the pandemic.

“The fallout of this pandemic has disparately impacted Arizona’s seniors. In a recent meeting with my Senior Citizen Advisory Group, I heard stories of seniors facing isolation, food insecurity, and issues both signing up for and getting to vaccine appointments. This emergency funding would address these issues by supporting programs and organizations that support Arizona seniors through food assistance, caregiving, transportation, and vaccine distribution,” Senator Mark Kelly

“We support the proposed legislation by Senator Kelly. We must prioritize the needs of the population at the greatest risk of hospitalization and death from the virus. We need assistance in our efforts to reach out to older adults and connect them with a vaccination. Of the more than 500,000 Americans lost to COVID-19, 80% were 65 or older. Without an infusion of funding to replace the expended CARES Act dollars, there will be millions of older adults who already are, or very soon will be at risk of losing access to meals, in-home support, case management, transportation, and health and wellness programming to stave off social isolation and loneliness. Additional emergency funding is necessary and required to enable these older adults most at risk of COVID-19 and in greatest need to continue receiving life-sustaining services and to obtain access to vaccines,” Mary Beals Luedtka, Board Chair, Arizona State Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

“The challenges facing Arizona seniors have been compounded by COVID-19. This proposal from Senator Kelly would improve the health and well-being of Arizona seniors by supporting programs that provide transportation, meals, caregiving, and other assistance seniors need during this pandemic,” Dr. Lisa O’Neill, Associate Director of Research and Education, University of Arizona Center on Aging.

“At a time when older Americans need help the most, Senator Kelly has come through for us. The Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act helps to give us peace of mind in knowing that funds will be available to provide limited English outreach, legal hotlines, nutrition services, and more. In Arizona, these services are especially important for the thousands of seniors who reside in rural counties and lack the resources they need and deserve,” Dora Vasquez, Executive Director, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans.

The funding from the Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act includes $480 million for vaccination outreach and other programming, $775 million for nutrition services, $44 million for evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion services, $145 million for caregiver support services, $75.5 million to carry out demonstrations and evaluations under the Act, including funding to support multigenerational engagement, and $10 million for the long-term care ombudsman program.

Read more about the Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act HERE.