By Representative Jacob Auchincloss (MA-4)
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept families apart and devastated our economy. Senior Citizens in particular have felt the impact of not being able to see loved ones, needing to take extra precautions when doing simple chores like visiting the doctor and going to the grocery store, and having to quarantine in order to avoid illness or making others ill.
The good news is that we now have a vaccine and more economic relief is on the way. Scaling up testing and vaccination, while getting money directly into the pockets of families, small business owners, and local governments will ensure that both our social mobility and economy will rebound in the months ahead. In early February - for the first time ever - more Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine than have tested positive for the virus. The American Rescue Plan we are currently working on in Congress will spend about $1.9 trillion to address the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. This plan is set to include $20 billion for a national vaccination program and 100% federal reimbursement for vaccinations and for state & local emergency response. As we continue to prioritize at-risk communities with vaccine distribution, this is welcome news and relief for Senior Citizens in Massachusetts and across the country. But we cannot ignore the other challenges that lay ahead.
The pandemic has crystallized the disparities that exist in our nation. These include the racial wealth gap, inequity in public education, and infrastructure deterioration across the country. Coming out of this pandemic, we cannot forget that the burden is on us to rebuild an economy that works for everyone – not just a select few. That needs to include economic growth and protection for senior citizens.
Too often, senior citizens are left out of the conversation when we talk about economic justice. Improving access to affordable transportation, lowering the cost of housing, and making sure everyone feels financially secure are all issues I will champion in Congres, and all directly impact the senior population - who should be at the front of our minds as we work on legislation in these crucial areas. As a member of Congress, I will always protect Social Security and Medicare from those who would cut them. Americans who have paid into the system deserve peace of mind in their retirement.
The next few months will be tough. There is hope on the horizon, though. Tragedy presents opportunity, and on the other side of this pandemic is an opportunity to create a new economy - one that is more inclusive and sustainable. Senior citizens need to be included in that conversation and considered as we move forward into a new chapter in our nation’s history. I am excited to partner with the seniors in my district and across the country as we make sure their needs are met in the recovery and beyond.