Action Alert: Tell Congress to Increase HCBS Funding
COVID-19: What Was Included in Package #3?
Thank you for your advocacy in support of the COVID-19 Stimulus Package #3, which was signed into law late last week! This was a huge and important step in getting dollars flowing in a number of critical ways. Here are a few things that were included that positively impact our community:
- People with disabilities, including SSI/SSDI recipients, are included in the fiscal relief package. Stimulus checks will be treated as rebates and will not impact other benefits. For more information, click here for an excellent summary prepared by The Arc.
- Not-for-profits are eligible for small business loans, regardless of whether or not they receive Medicaid funding. This is critical for our provider community, as these funds can be utilized to pay staff and other expenses that keep services operational. Additionally, these loans are eligible to be forgiven once this crisis has passed. For more information, click here.
- NOTE: While this is a significant win, the dollars available are limited and loans will be provided on a first come, first served basis. Please see the Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Applications will open on April 15, 2020.
- Students with disabilities remain protected under IDEA and Section 504, with no waivers allowable at this time. Additionally, $30 billion in additional funding is available for education to meet the needs of students with disabilities. See OSERS’ COVID-19, IDEA-related Q&A on the latest guidance for ensuring all students have access to a free and appropriate education during this public health crisis.
- Money Follows the Person and Spousal Impoverishment Protections have been extended through November 30, 2020.
- $150 billion in additional local/state funds made available. These funds can be accessed by Vocational Rehabilitation and Developmental Disabilities entities, although it is anticipated that there will be a lot of competition for these dollars.
Please reach out to thank your Members of Congress for their efforts on this Package. However, it is also critical that we express our frustrations that the Package did not include increased HCBS funding to support the needs of people with disabilities and the provider community.
Read on for more details.
Tell Congress #WhatWeNeed in Package #4
Several critical provisions for the disability community were NOT included in Package #3, several of which directly impact Employment First. We need your advocacy to ensure that these issues are front and center in the negotiations for Package #4.
Tell Congress to address the critical needs of people with disabilities in the next COVID-19 relief package!
Tell your Members of Congress that #WhatWeNeed is:
- Increased Medicaid funding dedicated for HCBS
- Increased funding to support direct service professionals and direct service agencies
- Increased funding to ensure personal protective equipment is available for providers
- Directives to ensure information about the public health emergency is described in accessible formats
- Increased funds to support family care providers, family leave, and sick leave to support people with disabilities
What can I do?
Call your Members of Congress (U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or Google the phone number for your local office). Don’t forget to provide your name and city/state where you live.
Example Tweet: @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS, pass a new #COVID19 relief bill that addresses the needs of people with disabilities and their direct supports during this crisis! #WhatWeNeed #DSPsAreEssential
Steps for State Advocacy
Tell Governors to classify Direct Support Professionals as essential staff!
Job Coaches and other Direct Support Professionals are essential to ensuring the safety and health of people with disabilities who receive employment supports. Many people with disabilities work in jobs that are considered “essential” and are reporting to work at healthcare facilities, grocery stores and the like.
However, Direct Support Professionals (including Job Coaches) are not often thought of when essential staff exemptions are established.
- Issue an executive order designating direct support professionals as “essential workers”
- Publicly recognize the important work direct support professionals do in the community
- Encourage displaced workers to consider applying for jobs as Direct Support Professionals