U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 8, 2020
Thank you, Independent Expert Mahler. In your report, you note COVID-19’s negative health, social, and economic impacts on older persons. We take this opportunity to share several programs the U.S. government has put in place to mitigate these effects and to help ensure that individuals can remain independent and active.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) were signed into law last March. In April, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living announced $1.2 billion in CARES Acts grants to support older persons and persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency. The funds support the work of ageing and disability networks, including Centers for Independent Living in U.S. states, senior centers, faith-based organizations, and non-profits. They deliver meals, ensure safe transitions home following hospitalizations, provide care in the home and respite to family caregivers, and provide information and referrals to support services.
In March, HHS issued a bulletin to remind covered entities of 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, including in the provision of health care services during COVID-19.
In May, HHS began distributing nearly $5 billion in additional funding to assist older persons who are more susceptible to respiratory conditions and reside in skilled nursing facilities. In addition, employees in these facilities have also been diagnosed with the disease. These monies help address critical needs including labor, scaling up testing capacity, and acquiring personal protective equipment.
You suggest giving consideration to establishing an independent entity or procedure whose mandate would be to examine complaints related to older persons (para. 91 of the report). Can you elaborate on what this new body or procedure would look like and how it might function?