February 9, 2021Workers’ Rights Legislation Could Exacerbate Senior Living Workforce Challenges
A group of federal lawmakers has resurrected legislation that could result in major labor law changes that potentially would exacerbate workforce challenges already facing the senior living industry, industry experts say.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was reintroduced Thursday by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). The bill, which passed the House last February but did not advance to the Senate, has 194 co-sponsors. It would make it easier for workers to unionize and more difficult for operators to prevent it from happening, experts say.
American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless said that ASHA is working with the Coalition for Democratic Workforce, a broad-based coalition of organizations representing employers and employees in various industries “concerned with a long-standing effort by some in the labor movement to make radical changes to the National Labor Relations Act without regard to the severely negative impact they would have on employees, employers and the economy.”
“ASHA is concerned over many of the provisions in the PRO Act, which is designed to give more power to unions and union organizing,” Schless told McKnight’s Senior Living, adding that ASHA will support CDW’s efforts to educate lawmakers and the public about the “detrimental consequences of this legislation.” Click here for full story.
January 28, 2021Senior Living Providers Express Concern as States Redirect COVID Vaccines Elsewhere
As states are pressured to get shots into arms more quickly, some governors and public health officials are rerouting COVID-19 vaccine doses earmarked for assisted living communities and nursing homes back to states.
The governments of Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah are redirecting or reserving doses originally meant for long-term care facilities until those facilities use up the doses they have on hand, according to Politico.
American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless said that although the federal long-term care vaccination program has experienced “fits and starts and is not moving necessarily as quickly as we would all like to see,” it is progressing.
Schless said ASHA’s focus remains on advocating for vaccination for independent living residents and encouraging senior living staff members to get vaccinated.
“I am going to remain optimistic,” he said. “I think we’ll see the supply of the vaccine pick up, hopefully, in the coming weeks, which will be helpful for all of us. But, certainly, we want to see these communities get these clinics scheduled so residents and staff can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
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January 22, 2021Biden Pledges ‘Laser-Focus’ on Vaccines for Residential Care, Targeted Interventions for Assisted Living
One day after President Joe Biden took office, his administration released its national strategy for combating Covid-19. The 200-page plan calls for a “laser-focus” on vaccinating people at highest risk, including older adults and people in congregate settings, as well as “targeted surge assistance” to help contain Covid-19 outbreaks in assisted living.
Though details are scarce, the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) is supportive of moves to expand the LTC Pharmacy Program and accelerate distribution of vaccines to residential care settings, ASHA President David Schless said.
“We are concerned that by calling on states to expand eligibility to other workers and younger age groups, much like the previous administration did recently, before addressing all of senior living residents and staff, it will stress the system and threaten the scarce vaccine supply,” he noted. “This becomes more problematic when certain settings such as independent living are being left out of the LTC pharmacy plan.”
ASHA also is concerned about plans for releasing more vaccine supply while maintaining commitment to the current, two-dose regimen. This approach is “dependent on moving parts working in concert,” with the risk being that second-dose supply will not be available when needed.
But ASHA is encouraged by the comprehensive plan to accelerate vaccine supply and distribution and has a “simple message” to the administration:
“Include all senior living in the existing LTC Pharmacy Program, including independent living. It is the most efficient and safest way to disseminate vaccine to this vulnerable population and the staff and prevent hospitalizations and demand on the greater health care system.”
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January 20, 2021$1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan May Not Go Far Enough for Senior Living
President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan, unveiled January 14, includes an initiative to “protect vulnerable populations in congregate settings,” but it may not go far enough to meet the needs of senior living and care, according to some industry leaders. Still, however, they expressed appreciation that the incoming administration is taking COVID-19 seriously.
American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless, who last week sent a letter to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris highlighting vaccine prioritization and targeted senior living COVID-19 relief, applauded Biden’s goal to accelerate the vaccine rollout, but he expressed concern that any deviation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention priority vaccination recommendations.
“ASHA continues to raise the issue of independent living residents and staff being overlooked in some states and localities and [is] urging policymakers to include these communities in the [Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program] to achieve the greatest efficiency in distribution and safety of residents,” Schless said.
Expanding access to younger age groups, as Operation Warp Speed officials announced last week, is “ill-advised” and would force independent living residents to compete with others in a “tedious and confusing” process, he added.
“Clinics must come to these seniors where they live. This is why the LTC pharmacy program or other similar programs must include independent living settings,” Schless said.
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January 13, 2021Changes Open COVID Vaccination to Independent Living, Affordable Senior Housing Residents
In a move that should open COVID-19 vaccination to independent living and affordable senior housing residents across the country, officials with the federal vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution program on January 12 announced an expansion of the program to enable anyone aged 65 or more years to be vaccinated.
But affordable senior housing residents and independent living residents were not considered among the priority groups in phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, even if they lived in continuing care retirement communities where other residents were considered a priority. That led groups such as the American Seniors Housing Association to write to state governors to advocate on their behalf. Read more.