HRSA Provides COVID-19 Emergency Funding to GWEPS:
As you know NAGE asked Senator Collins and Rep. Schakowsky to secure the GWEP/GACA reauthorization in the CARES Act, and it was included. We also requested additional funding from Congress, and told HRSA we were working to secure funds for COVID-19 related work, but did not know that HRSA would use some of the undesignated funds they received in the CARES Act for supplemental grants totaling $4.3 million to GWEP sites. As you know, this will allow for at least $90K per site. So, we are extremely pleased with this outcome, and very appreciative of our friends on the Hill and at HRSA, who seem to be keenly aware of the pandemic work and needs of GWEP sites. While this was coming to fruition, we were developed another request with your valuable input and input from AGS, GSA, and EWA. The details are included below.
Congress and the President Increase Small Business Loan Program:
Roughly $484 billion in economic aid is on its way to small businesses, medical providers, and state testing efforts as part of the latest relief measure, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PL 116-139) signed into law on April 24, 2020. The law provides $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for states to increase testing. The next bill, CARES 2, is being written in the House and may not come to pass as easily as the first four bills. More on that as things develop.
No Remote Hearings or Voting for Now:
Earlier this week it looked like the House would vote on some form of remote voting, but based on bipartisan pushback, the vote was postponed. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are convening a bipartisan workgroup to consider various options for carrying out congressional functions. “Proxy voting” appears to be less likely, and Republicans in both chambers of Congress, including most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are pushing to get back to the normal in-person schedule.
NAGE, AGS, EWA, GSA Request Additional GWEP & GACA Funding:
Here is what NAGE has shared with the Hill:
The staff at the GWEP sites and GACA recipients, both funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are playing a major role in the COVID-19 response for the most susceptible populations as front-line practitioners and by supporting, educating, and training health care professionals, community-based partners, caregivers, and patients. NAGE conducted a survey of GWEP sites to assess how these programs are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 and how sites could use additional resource during the pandemic. Current adaptations include: converting healthcare professional and community education events to online opportunities; converting evidence-based programs to online opportunities; creating COVID-19 training materials for clinical and social service settings as well as community partners; implementing or supporting implementation of telehealth; conducting community education through media appearances/interviews; converting academic offerings to online platforms; conducting outreach to patients to facilitate advanced care planning; increasing outreach to older adults; and increasing outreach to community/GWEP partners. Multiple GWEPs are creating educational materials focused on COVID-19-related topics including social isolation, loneliness, telehealth delivery and training for older adults/caregivers, advance care planning, and infection prevention.
The Geriatrics Academic Career Awardees (GACAs) are also on the COVID-19 frontlines of caring for older adults and redirecting their clinical and educational work to address the critical needs for solutions-based guidance within their institutions and in their communities. GWEP sites and GACAs are also leading the way in educating the larger community about how to conduct telehealth visits within the framework of the new guidance from CMS.
At this time, GWEP sites and GACA recipients are in need of additional resources including funds for technology/equipment; webpage and materials conversion; expanding Project ECHO/telehealth; expanding community, hospital, long term care, and community programs and education; staff support for phone reassurance and education with patients/caregivers including homebound older adults; rural community outreach; management of psychosocial issues such as social isolation and loneliness, anxiety and depression among older adults; and dementia friendly resources and programs. Our funding request reflects the intensity of the demand for age-friendly health care services and community supports for the older adult population who is susceptible to COVID-19 illness and mortality.
We urge Congress to provide the following two resources to the GWEP sites and GACA program to be used to address the growing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Supplemental funding of $8.64 million ($180,000 for each of the 48 GWEP sites) to support necessary staff, technology, training, and materials.
- Supplemental funding of $1.7 million for current and prior GWEP sites in key COVID-19 crisis areas to be determined by HRSA and
- Supplemental funding of $650,000 for GACA awardees ($25,000 for each of the 26 GACA awardees) many who are redirecting their clinical and education work to address solutions-based guidance for their institutions during the pandemic.
Please stay well and safe!
Brian W. Lindberg, NAGE Public Policy Advisor
1612 K Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006