New Biden Administration Lays Out Key Priorities for Immediate COVID Response
Friday, January 29, 2021
Section: January Associate Newsletter

In a 23-page plan and list of Executive Orders released last week, President Biden and his administration unveiled a roadmap outlining initial priorities to respond to the current health and economic crises. Within the plan are several opportunities for the Aging Network and aging advocates to assume leadership roles to ensure that the needs of high-risk older Americans, people with disabilities and their caregivers are addressed. n4a and our national advocacy organization partners are engaged in ongoing efforts to highlight and promote the importance of involving national, state and local Aging Network stakeholders in an emerging comprehensive response strategy.

Specifically, the administration's plan details actions to mount an effective and comprehensive vaccination campaign with a focus on high-risk and hard-to-reach populations; mitigate spread through efforts to expand the health care workforce and provide clear public health standards; expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act to bolster testing, tracing and preventative efforts; and protect those most at risk and advance racial and geographic equity in pandemic response efforts.

n4a and our partners recognize and will continue to endorse and encourage the vital role of AAAs and the Aging Network in realizing each of these goals. Initially raised with the Biden Administration in our December 8 memo, we are urging new administration officials and lawmakers to ensure that the network is a key partner in near-future coronavirus response strategies—especially as they target particularly high-risk and socially isolated older adults and caregivers.
In the little more than a week since President Biden and a new Senate majority were sworn in, the process is rapidly accelerating. While n4a is supportive of many of the initiatives and priorities included in the Administration’s plans, we are also concerned that there is very little mention of supporting high-risk older adults and caregivers at home during the extended health and economic crisis. Therefore, with potentially very little time to affect the content of a legislative package, n4a and our national Aging Network advocacy organization partners have been laser focused on having conversations with key staff members and circulating letters from n4a and Aging Network Stakeholder organizations as well as a memo to the Biden Administration urging critical investments in additional roughly $1.4 billion in emergency funding for OAA programs.
Because the Senate and House are now under control of the same party, lawmakers could use a procedural process called reconciliation to advance spending and policy measures that are immune from the threat of Senate filibuster. As such, there may be very little time to influence the substance of the bill. Therefore, it will be critical for grassroots aging advocates to reach out early next week. Stay tuned to an Advocacy Alert and additional resources for advocates to urge their lawmaker to include vital OAA funding in another round of COVID-19 response.