Disability Policy News October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 42
U.S. Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee concluded four days of confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. During the hearings, Judge Barrett answered three rounds of questions from each of the 22 Judiciary Committee members. On the final day of the hearings, five Republican-chosen witnesses supporting her confirmation and five Democrat-chosen witnesses opposing her confirmation testified before the Committee. The Judiciary Committee will vote to advance Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Senate on October 22nd. A full Senate vote is expected by the end of the month. Both the Committee vote and full Senate vote require only a simple majority to pass.

Plain Language:

  • The Senate is moving forward with Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. AUCD does not support her nomination because she has said she would make a ruling to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

What this means to you:

  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett is likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court and it is very possible that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed. Millions of people with disabilities and their families would lose health care access and protections if the ACA is repealed.

Action Steps:

  • Read AUCD’s statement opposing the nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.
  • Watch the Community Call hosted by AUCD with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on the importance of the Affordable Care Act for the disability community and all Americans.
  • Learn more about the process of picking a Supreme Court Justice with our Plain Language guide.
  • Read a synopsis of Judge Barrett’s record on issues affecting people with disabilities from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
  • Learn about the upcoming Supreme Court Case on the ACA, California v. Texas.
    • Read the Amicus Brief on the case from the disability community, including AUCD.
  • Read the full Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your Senators and what to say when you do.
  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators.
    • You can use this easy tool to find your Senators, including local office numbers.

Disability Policy News October 12, 2020

October 12, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 41
U.S. Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court today. Hearings are currently scheduled for the next four days with Committee Senators attending both in-person and virtually. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), who both sit on the Judiciary Committee, are currently in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to plan for a full-Senate confirmation vote before the November 3rd elections despite an outbreak of COVID-19 believed to have spread amongst White House officials and Senators at an event honoring Judge Barrett in the White House Rose Garden on September 27th.

AUCD has released a statement opposing the nomination of Judge Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court due to her well-evidenced hostility to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): "AUCD supports previous Supreme Court rulings upholding the constitutionality of the ACA, and affirms the Court’s decisions that any changes to the Act be legislative and not judicial," said John Tschida, executive director of AUCD. "Repeal of the ACA would negatively and disproportionately impact people with disabilities, especially people of color, who are overrepresented in the Medicaid population." The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA beginning November 10th.

Plain Language:

· The Senate is moving forward with Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. AUCD does not support her nomination because she has said she would make a ruling to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

What this means to you:

· Judge Amy Coney Barrett is likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court and it is very possible that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed. Millions of people with disabilities and their families would lose health care access and protections if the ACA is repealed.

Action Steps:

· Watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:

oMonday, October 12th, 9:00 am

oTuesday, October 13th, 9:00 am

oWednesday, October 14th, 9:00 am

oThursday, October 15th, 9:00 am

· Read AUCD’s statement opposing the nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.

· Watch the Community Call hosted by AUCD with Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on the importance of the Affordable Care Act for the disability community and all Americans.

· Learn more about the process of picking a Supreme Court Justice with our Plain Language guide.

· Read a synopsis of Judge Barrett’s record on issues affecting people with disabilities from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

· Learn about the upcoming Supreme Court Case on the ACA, California v. Texas.

· Read the Amicus Brief on the case from the disability community, including AUCD.

Disability Policy News October 5, 2020

October 5, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 40
White House

A growing number of people connected to the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus. Known positives in this growing cluster of cases as of this writing include the President and First Lady, members of Congress, White House staff and advisors, GOP officials, Trump campaign staffers, members of the press and members of the public who attended recent White House events.

Plain language:

  • President Trump has the coronavirus.

What it means to you:

  • The health of the President and other elected officials impacts how our government functions. A virus outbreak within party and campaign staff impacts how a campaign can function.

Action Steps:

Disability Policy News September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 39
COVID-19

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House of Representatives would begin work on a new COVID-19 relief package and that Democratic leadership would resume negotiations with White House officials. The new plan is expected to cost about $2.4 trillion dollars, which is $1 trillion less than the House Democrats’ HEROES Act (H.R.6800) passed in the House in May and about $1.1 trillion more than the Senate Republicans’ ‘skinny’ relief bill (S.A.2652) proposed in the Senate earlier this month. President Donald J. Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have signaled an interest in passing further COVID-19 relief legislation prior to the November election and have publicly urged Senate Republicans to accept a higher price tag, although it is unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will agree. A draft for the House bill is expected later this week.

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities in recent legislation:

Topic HEROES Act

(H.R.6800)

‘Skinny’ relief bill

(S.A. 2652)

AUCD Priority
Passed the House on 5/15/20. Voted down in the Senate on 9/10/20.
Liability Wavers None. Five-year shield from coronavirus related lawsuits. No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.
Education $90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.
Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access. None. $20 billion in funding for HCBS.
Developmental

Disabilities network

$10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils). None. $30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).
Other $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."

Plain language:

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives are working on a new COVID-19 relief bill. We don’t know what is in the bill yet or if it will be supported by the Senate and White House.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Read the Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 38
COVID-19

A bipartisan plan for COVID-19 relief from the House of Representatives’ “Problem Solvers Caucus” did little to move the political gridlock that has stalled legislative action addressing the ongoing public health and economic crises. The “March to Common Ground” COVID relief framework was announced with the support of 25 Democratic and 25 Republican Representatives with the intent of forging a path for bipartisan compromise. While not a formal piece of legislation, the framework calls for $1.5 trillion in new funding for COVID-19 testing and healthcare, expanded unemployment insurance, school and child care, direct stimulus checks, election support, and other areas of need. The framework immediately hit roadblocks from Democratic leadership, who maintain that at least $2 trillion in relief spending is necessary, and bicameral Republican members, who prefer a price-tag under $1 trillion. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows signaled their support for the framework and publicly urged Republican lawmakers to back a large COVID-19 relief bill.

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities:

Topic HEROES Act

(H.R.6800)

‘Skinny’ relief bill

(S.A. 2652)

"March to Common Ground" framework AUCD Priority
Passed the House on 5/15/20. Voted down in the Senate on 9/10/20. Announced on 9/15/20.
Liability Wavers None. Five-year shield from coronavirus related lawsuits. "Enhanced protections" for entities which follow OSHA guidelines. No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.
Education $90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $15 billion for childcare, $100 billion for K-12, $30 billion for higher education. None tied to IDEA. $12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.
Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access. None. None, although $500 billion investment in state and local aid could provide support. $20 billion in funding for HCBS.
Developmental

Disabilities network

$10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils). None. None. $30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).
Other $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."

$11 billion for nutrition services.

$30 billion for healthcare provider support, including telehealth expansion.

Plain language:

  • A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from the House of Representatives worked together to make a plan for COVID-19 relief. However, many other Democratic lawmakers think the plan costs too little, and many other Republican lawmakers think the plan costs too much.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the “March to Common Ground” COVID relief framework:

Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do. Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 37
COVID-19

Upon returning to Washington last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introducing a $497 billion COVID-19 relief act. Considered a ‘skinny’ version of the $1 trillion HEALS Act, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act (S.Amdt.2652) was voted down 52-47 along party lines, with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Democrats in voting no. The continued partisan disagreement over the scope of relief needed to address COVID-19 makes it increasingly unlikely that a standalone COVID-19 relief package will pass before the November election. The House of Representatives returns from their August recess today and both chambers are expected to turn their attentions to funding the government past the end of the Fiscal Year on September 30th.

Plain language:

  • The Senate voted on a bill for COVID-19 relief but it did not pass. Republicans and Democrats still have very different ideas about what is needed to help during COVID-19. It is likely there will be no more COVID-19 bills for a while.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the COVID-19 relief act voted on last week:

Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do. Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News September 8, 2020

September 8, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 36
COVID-19

There was no further legislative action on COVID-19 relief taken last week. The Senate returns from its August Recess on September 8th, and Senate Republicans are expected to introduce a $497 billion ‘skinny’ version of their HEALS Act called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Business Act. Of note to the disability community, the proposed Act does not include money for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and education services provided by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and retains the civil rights (including ADA) liability waivers that were first proposed in the HEALS Act. Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already issued a letter to his Senate colleagues denouncing the ‘skinny’ bill as inept and urging lawmakers to instead pass more comprehensive legislation. It is increasingly unlikely that a standalone COVID-19 relief package will pass as lawmakers turn their attention to the end of the Fiscal Year on September 30th.

Updates on the August 8th COVID-19 Executive Orders:

  • Eviction moratorium: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an order halting evictions for some renters in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to evaluate the need for rental assistance. The order applies to evictions through December 31st and requires renters to pay back any missed rent.
  • Expanded unemployment insurance: Only five states out of the 36 that applied for the continued unemployment insurance authorized through executive action have begun issuing the $300/week checks. However, this relief is now in jeopardy because the federal funds were taken from the budget of FEMA, which must now address damage caused by Hurricane Laura.

Plain language:

  • The Senate is coming back to work today and Republican Senators might introduce a bill for COVID-19 relief. Republicans and Democrats still have very different ideas about what is needed to help people during COVID-19. The President took some actions in August that have helped some people who have lost their jobs and people who cannot pay their rent.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the Senate Republicans’ proposed ‘skinny’ bill:

Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do. Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News August 31, 2020

August 31, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 35
COVID-19

Negotiations for further COVID-19 relief legislation remain stalled. While Senate Republicans have circulated details of a $497 billion ‘skinny’ version of their HEALS Act, called Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Business Act, they have yet to formally introduce the bill. Although on August recess, both the House and Senate remain on call for a vote if party leaders reach a deal on COVID-19 legislation.

Plain Language:

  • Democratic and Republican lawmakers have stopped working together on a COVID-19 package for now, but might start again in September when the Senate and House return from their break.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights.
  • Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 34
COVID-19

Negotiations for further COVID-19 relief legislation remained on pause last week as lawmakers instead shifted their focus to reported issues at the United States Postal Service (USPS). However, Senate Republicans released details of a new, ‘skinny’ version of the HEALS Act, entitled Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Business Act, signaling their legislative priorities when the Senate returns in September. The ‘skinny’ bill focuses on COVID-related liability waivers and $497 billion in funding for education, the post office, and combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note to the disability community, the proposed legislation does not include money for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and education services provided by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and retains the civil rights liability waivers included in the HEALS Act. Both the House and Senate remain on call for a vote if party leaders reach a consensus on further COVID-19 relief legislation during the August recess.

Plain Language:

  • Democratic and Republican lawmakers have stopped working together on a COVID-19 package for now, but might start again in September when the Senate and House return from their break.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the Senate Republicans’ proposed ‘skinny’ bill:

Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights. Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do. Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News August 17, 2020

August 17, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 33
COVID-19

Negotiations on legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis stalled last week in the wake of President Trump’s Executive Orders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed members for the planned August recess, although both have instituted a 24-hour notice to return should a vote be scheduled for COVID-19 legislation. It is unclear when or if negotiations will resume between Congressional leaders and the White House. On Sunday evening, Speaker Pelosi announced she would be calling the House back to session to address issues concerning the United States Postal Service. The timeline of that return and scope of House activities remained unclear as of publication.

Lawmakers, lawyers, and other stakeholders continue to evaluate the legality and impact of the series of executive actions on COVID-19 relief signed by President Trump last week. The orders aim to suspend the payroll tax collection, prevent evictions, continue student loan deferrals through at least the end of the year, and provide for partially reviving expanded unemployment insurance. However, members of both parties at the federal and state levels have pushed back on the orders, and Majority Leader McConnell has indicated he is open to resuming negotiations for a bill with his Democratic counterparts.

Plain Language:

  • Lawmakers have stopped working on a COVID-19 package for now, but might start again soon. President Trump made some executive orders, but we don’t know if they can or will change anything.
  • An executive order is a type of written instruction that presidents use without input from Congress or judges. Executive orders can only be given to federal agencies, not to citizens.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • For a comparison of the House HEROES Act vs the Senate HEALS Act, view these charts developed by the New York Times.
  • Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights.
  • Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 32
Action Alert: COVID-19 Relief Package 4

Congressional leaders remain at a stalemate over the next COVID-19 relief package and it remains unclear when or even if legislation will be passed. Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met for negotiations with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and the Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin several times last week, but both sides have shown an unwillingness to compromise. Rep. Pelosi and Senator Schumer continue to work from the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which passed the House in early May, and have indicated they will not accept a package that does not include continued unemployment payments at $600/week. Meanwhile, Republicans remain divided over the need to even pass further aid, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that any proposal must include sweeping liability shields for businesses to protect them against coronavirus-related lawsuits. Members of both the House and Senate returned to their home states over the weekend for the August recess, further indicating that Congressional leaders are nowhere close to a final deal.

Of note to the disability community, Senator Casey (D-PA) led 41 other Democratic Senators in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell last week urging him to include money for Medicaid in the next relief package, including for home- and community-based services (HCBS). The letter also outlined the harmful impact sweeping liability waivers to civil rights laws would have on people with disabilities and other marginalized communities, and asked the Majority Leader to abandon such measures.

On Saturday August 8, President Trump signed a series of executive actions intended to extend and expand COVID-19 relief, including to suspend payroll tax collection, prevent evictions, continue student loan deferrals through at least the end of the year and provide for partially reviving expanded unemployment insurance. It is not clear the legal authority under which the president was acting in taking these actions. Their impact remains unclear.

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities:

Topic HEROES Act (H.R.6800) HEALS Act AUCD Priority
Liability Wavers None. Five-year shield from corona-virus related lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title I, unless an entity – like a business, school or government agency – engaged in "gross negligence" or "intentional misconduct." No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.
Education $90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.
Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access. None. $20 billion in funding for HCBS.
Developmental Disabilities network $10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils). $10 million for Protection and Advocacy Agencies.

$2 million for unspecified Technical Assistance.

$30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).
Other $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."

Forms bipartisan Congressional "rescue committees" to recommend plans for shoring up Social Security and Medicare.

Plain Language:

  • Republicans and Democrats have very different ideas for the next COVID-19 package. Congress and the White House are working together to decide which parts of each plan to use for a final package, but they have not made much progress. The President took some actions, but we don’t know if this will change anything.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • For a broader comparison of the HEROES Act vs the HEALS Act, view these charts developed by the New York Times.
  • Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights.
  • Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News August 3, 2020

August 3, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 31
Action Alert: COVID-19 Relief Package 4

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican Senators released their initial version of a COVID-19 relief Package 4 last week called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. Increasing calls by Senate Republicans to view the HEALS Act as a first draft rather than a final version reflect not only strong Democratic opposition, but also conflicting priorities amongst Republican lawmakers and President Trump. Formal bipartisan negotiations have yet to begin, and it is unclear when or even if further legislation will be passed.

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities:

Topic HEROES Act (H.R.6800) HEALS Act AUCD Priority
Liability Wavers None. Five-year shield from corona-virus related lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title I, unless an entity – like a business, school or government agency – engaged in "gross negligence" or "intentional misconduct." No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.
Education $90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. $12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.
Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access. None. $20 billion in funding for HCBS.
Developmental Disabilities network $10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils). $10 million for Protection and Advocacy Agencies.

$2 million for unspecified Technical Assistance.

$30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).
Other $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."

Forms bipartisan Congressional "rescue committees" to recommend plans for shoring up Social Security and Medicare.

Plain Language:

  • Republicans now have a plan for the next COVID-19 package. It is very different from the plan from the Democrats. Congress and the White House now need to work together to decide which parts of each plan to use for a final package.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Read more about the HEALS Act:

For a broader comparison of the HEROES Act vs the HEALS Act, view these charts developed by the New York Times. Read the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do. Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News July 27, 2020

July 27, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 30
ACTION ALERT: COVID-19

Senate Republicans continued to hammer out the details of a COVID-19 relief package 4, which Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has indicated he wants to send to President Trump before the August recess. While Leader McConnell has yet to release full legislative text, the bill is expected to prioritize liability protections for businesses and include funding to reopen schools, funding for testing, another round of direct-payment checks, and additional funds for small businesses.

There is a real risk that human needs, including those of people with disabilities, will not be included in this package! The voices of constituents from every state are needed to ensure critical actions are taken. AUCD encourages you to reach out to your Senators and ask that COVID-19 relief legislation include Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and Special Education funding to meet the emergency needs of students and young children with disabilities and their families, schools, and service providers.

Other COVID-19 new this week:

Plain Language:

  • Congress is working on ways to support businesses, schools, and people during COVID-19. We are still not sure how they will help or when that help will come.

What this means to you:

  • It is possible that Congress will not spend any money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action steps:

  • Read the full Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

Disability Policy News July 20, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
July 20, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 29
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.Action Alert: COVID-19

Congress is expected to move an additional COVID-19 relief package starting today. There is a real risk that human needs, including those of people with disabilities, will not be included in this package! The voices of constituents from every state are needed to ensure critical actions are taken. AUCD encourages you to reach out to your Senators and ask that COVID-19 relief legislation include Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and Special Education funding to meet the emergency needs of students and young children with disabilities and their families, schools, and service providers.

Plain Language:

  • For the next two weeks, Congress will be working on a new bill to support people during COVID-19. It is possible that Congress will not spend any money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them.

What this means to you:

  • Congress needs to hear from you about what people with disabilities need during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Read the full Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.
  • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
  • Share AUCD’s top priorities and your stories about the impact of COVID-19 on your life with your members of Congress.

seal of House of RepresenativesFiscal Year 2021

The House Appropriations Committee passed a fiscal year 2021 (FY21) funding bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other related agencies. The bill, which increases overall funding by $2.4 billion above the fiscal year 2020 level, stands in contrast to President Trump’s significantly smaller budget request. Highlights of the bill particularly relevant to people with disabilities include increases in funding for programs to improve maternal and child health, Medicare and Medicaid services, Home and Community-based Supportive Services (HCBS), and Special Education. The legislation will next be discussed and voted on by the full House of Representatives, date to be determined. The Senate has not yet released funding legislation for FY21.

FY 2020 Funding AUCD FY 21 Ask House Committee FY21
LENDs $35,245,000 $36,245,000 $36,245,000
UCEDDs $41,619,000 $43,500,000 $41,619,000
TPSID $11,800,000 $12,300,000 $12,300,000
PNS $12,250,000 $14,000,000 $12,250,000
NICHD $1,556,879,000 $1,600,000,000 $1,670,455,000

Plain Language:

  • Congress has started working on next year’s budgets for the government. They are deciding how much money to spend on different programs that support education, housing, health, and job training.

Action Steps:

Compare the House funding bill to the White House FY21 budget request.

logo for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, blue and yellowHome- and Community-Based Setting Services

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to State Medicaid Directors alerting them to an additional one-year extension on the deadline to complete implementation of activities and demonstrate compliance with the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule. The Rule, which establishes basic protections for older adults and people with disabilities who receive Medicaid-funded HCBS, had previously been granted a deadline extension from 2017 to 2022. The new deadline is now March 17, 2023. CMS cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social distancing measures, economic fallout, and underlying health vulnerabilities of older adults and people with disabilities as reasons for the delay. The HCBS Advocacy Coalition, of which the AUCD is a member, issued a response disagreeing with the CMS decision, arguing that the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in congregant settings such as nursing home should accelerate the move towards HCBS settings rather than slow the transition.

Plain Language:

  • Because of COVID, the federal government is giving states more time to follow rules to support home- and community-based services for people with disabilities.

What it means to you:

  • States might slow down work to ensure protections under HCBS. The delay could be bad for many people with disabilities who want to be a part of their communities and use Medicaid for their home- and community-based services.

Action Steps:

  • Read the letter and revised FAQ from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that announces the HCBS Settings Rule extension.
  • Technical assistance and support for states from the DHHS remains available.
  • Read the response from the HCBS Advocacy Coalition, of which AUCD is a part.
  • Check out this Plain Language guide to learn more about HCBS and the HCBS Settings Rule from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

hand putting ballot in boxVoting

AUCD is excited to join partners across the disability community working to increase the political power of people with disabilities by sharing resources and getting folks registered to vote.

AUCD Resources to share and support your efforts:

Action Steps:

Voting Resources from Disability Partners:

logo of AUCD Policy Talk AUCD Policy Talk

John Andresen, a graduate research assistant at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and a PhD student in Special Education at Indiana University–Bloomington, calls for more research on the connection between postsecondary education and employment outcomes for people with disabilities on this week’s #AUCDPolicyTalk.

Action Steps:

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz WeintraubTuesdays with Liz

Join us with past guests of the show reflecting on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in celebration of its 30th anniversary!

Tuesdays with Liz, ADA 30 Celebration

Guests, in order of appearance:

Deborah Spitalnik, New Jersey LEND
Aaron Combs, Walmart
Neil Romano, National Disability Council (NDC)
Rachel Mueller, Advocate
Shelly Christensen, Author
Senator Tammy Duckworth, Illinois
Tawara Goode, Washington, DC UCEDD

Disability Policy News July 13, 2020

Only thing

July 13, 2020 | Vol. MMXX, Issue 28
COVID-19

Congress and the administration are responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways. It is important that the various relief and safety efforts meet the needs of people with disabilities. Your education to members of Congress about the impact on people with disabilities is important during this time.

What happened last week:

Plain Language:

· Congress is working on bills to support people during COVID-19. They need to hear from you about the needs of people with disabilities.

What this means to you:

· More than 105 million Americans – or about 4 in 10 adults – are at greater risk if infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19), including older adults, people with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions. The front-line workers and family caregivers who support these individuals also face increased risks, requiring additional resources and supports to protect their health and well-being.

Action steps:

  • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress

UCEDD Funding in COVID Package 4

A group of Democratic Senators sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer requesting $30 million be included in the next COVID-19 Package for the Developmental Disabilities Network, and calling for the funds to be divided equally among the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (CDD or Councils), the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) programs. The ask comes in response to the disproportionate effect the pandemic is having on the disability community and recognizes the unique capabilities of the network to address the growing needs of individuals with developmental and other disabilities.

Plain Language:

· Congress is working on ways to support people with disabilities in the next COVID-19 package. Some Senators want to give money to organizations that support people with disabilities.

What this means to you:

· Senators are working right now to decide how to support people during the COVID-19 crisis. They need to hear from you about what would best help you and people with disabilities in your community.

Action Steps:

  • Read the letter sent to Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer requesting funds for the Developmental Disabilities Network in a COVID-19 Package 4.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators- share with your Senators the importance of this funding.
  • You canuse this easy tool to find your members of Congress

Fiscal Year 2021

This week the House Appropriations Committee released a fiscal year 2021 (FY21) funding bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other related agencies. The bill, which increases overall funding by $2.4 billion above the fiscal year 2020 level, stands in direct contrast to President Trump’s significantly smaller budget request. Highlights of the bill particularly relevant to people with disabilities include increases in funding for programs to improve maternal and child health, Medicare and Medicaid services, Home and Community-Based Supportive Services (HCBS), and Special Education. Details related to AUCD ask include:

FY 2020 Funding AUCD FY 21 Ask House Committee FY21
LENDs $35,245,000 $36,245,000 $36,245,000
UCEDDs $41,619,000 $43,500,000 $41,619,000
TPSID $11,800,000 $12,300,000 $12,300,000
PNS $12,250,000 $14,000,000 $12,250,000
NICHD $1,556,879,000 $1,600,000,000 1,670,455,000

The Senate has not yet released funding legislation for FY21.

Plain Language:

· Congress has started working on next year’s budgets for the government. They are deciding how much money to spend on different programs that support education, housing, health, and job training.

What this means to you:

· Many services and systems that support people with disabilities rely on federal funding. Educating members of Congress about how systems work and why the funding is valuable is important to ensure continued funding.

Action Steps:

Compare the House funding bill to the White House FY21 budget request. World Health Organization

This week the Trump Administration officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a withdrawal that would become effective July 6, 2021. The action comes months after President Trump first voiced his displeasure with the international global health organization’s response to the emergence and spread of COVID-19 around the globe. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as numerous public health officials, have expressed alarm over the decision to withdraw from the WHO even as the number of Coronavirus cases rise in the United States and worldwide. It is important to note, however, that the withdrawal will not take effect for a year and that the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, former Vice President Biden, has stated that he would keep the United States in the WHO should he be elected.

Plain Language:

· President Trump wants to end the relationship between the United States and the World Health Organization. No change will happen for a year.

  • The World Health Organization, which is also called "WHO," is a part of the United Nations. They work on keeping people healthy around the world. The governments of many countries work with WHO, including the United States.

What it means to you:

· The World Health Organization helps to keep people, including people with disabilities, healthy around the world. If the United States leaves the organization, it might make it harder to keep people in the United States and other countries healthy.

Action Steps:

  • Read the WHO’s guidance note on COVID-19 for people with disabilities as an example of the important work the WHO does for people with disabilities around the world.
  • Note that the United Nations (UN) does important work related to international disability rights beyond the WHO. Watch the UN Secretary General speak on the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of people with disabilities.

Voting

This week is National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW)!

AUCD is excited to join partners across the disability community working to increase the political power of people with disabilities by sharing resources and getting folks registered to vote. This National Disability Voter Registration Week is part of our plans to continuously share information and resources up to Election Day 2020.

Things to Do:

  • Follow AUCD’s social media accounts and share AUCD’s posts on your own social media platforms. Find AUCD at:

Post local-/state-specific information on social media using #REVUP #DisabilityVote Share voting resources with AUCD to distribute AUCD resources to share and support your efforts:

Voting Resources from Disability Partners:

AUCD Policy Talk

This week Laura Rodgers, a college student and disabled woman, challenges colleges and universities to consider the rights and needs of students with disabilities when reopening this Fall during #COVID19 on this week’s #AUCDPolicyTalk. #WhatWeNeed #PWD #ADA #ADA30

Action Steps:

Tuesdays with Liz

https://youtu.be/wbU8RiLuNUo

July marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA! Hear thoughts from AUCD leaders on the 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act.