Justice in Aging Resources

Given the seriousness of the COVID-19 epidemic and its impact on seniors living in poverty, we are actively engaging with policymakers at every level to ensure their responses are prioritizing those at greatest risk of illness and death.

Here’s what we’re watching in Washington:

Social Security Beneficiaries Will Receive Stimulus Payments Automatically; SSI-Only & VA-Only Beneficiaries Must File Tax Returns

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced that people who receive Social Security Title II retirement, survivors’, and disability insurance benefits will not need to file tax returns to get their CARES Act Economic Impact Payments. While this is an important assurance, the Administration is still requiring millions of low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive only Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans (VA) Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension benefits to file a tax return in order to receive their stimulus payment. These individuals need the stimulus payments the most and will spend them the quickest, but many of these individuals face very significant barriers to filing tax returns.

Call your members of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and tell them: “Thank Treasury for doing the right thing for Social Security beneficiaries—now they need to include SSI recipients as well.”    

HHS Office for Civil Rights Releases Bulletin on Prohibitions Against Discrimination

Recently, disability rights advocates filed four complaints about discriminatory state protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic. In response late last week, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights issued “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019,” a bulletin to guide states, hospitals, and providers in developing treatment rationing plans and administering care in the event of a shortage of medical equipment, hospital beds, or health care personnel. The bulletin advises “entities covered by civil rights authorities [to] keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs.” It specifies providers’ and entities’ obligations to provide effective communication and qualified interpreters, make emergency-related messaging accessible, and “address[] the needs of individuals with disabilities.”

Administration Will Not Reopen HealthCare.gov

This week HHS stated that it will not reopen HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period (SEP) during the health emergency. This means uninsured or underinsured people in the 38 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov platform will not have access to ACA marketplace coverage unless they qualify for an existing SEP. Of the 13 state-based marketplaces, 12 have created SEPs in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

New Justice in Aging Resources

·        CARES Act: What’s In it & What’s Missing?

·        Life at the Intersection: Older Adults Need a Response to COVID-19 Grounded in Equity

·        Summary of Emergency Modifications to State HCBS Programs for Older Adults: AK, CO, CT, KY, MN, RI, WA, WV

·        New Webinars: Nursing Facilities & Assisted Living (4/3), New SSA Policies (4/10), Changes to Medicare Coverage (4/14)

New National Center on Law & Elder Rights (NCLER) Resources

·        Q&A Follow-Up Session: Strategies for Providing Remote Legal Services to Older Adults Live on Monday April 6th

New COVID-19 Guidance From the Department of Health & Human Services

·        Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth & Telemedicine Toolkit

·        COVID-19 Long-Term Care Facility Guidance

·        COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers (includes information on appeals, durable medical equipment, home health)

·        Interim Final Rule: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

·        Approved State Waivers

Other New Resources

·        COVID-19 Communication Rights Toolkit in English & Spanish, Communication First

·        FAQs on Medicare Coverage and Costs Related to COVID-19 Testing and Treatment, Kaiser Family Foundation

·        BULLETIN: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019

·        Protecting Renter and Homeowner Rights During Our National Health Crisis, National Housing Law Project

·        2020 State and Local Government Responses to COVID-19, Stateside

·        Next Step on Stimulus Rebates: Automatic Delivery for People Receiving SSI and Veterans’ Benefits, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Stay up-to-date on Justice in Aging’s COVID-19 Resources for Advocates Serving Older Adults webpage.