COVID-19 Advocacy

Update: January 15, 2021

Last night, the incoming Biden-Harris administration released the first part of its proposed COVID-19 relief plan. It includes many important priorities, including full federal Medicaid funding for administration of vaccines and additional housing and nutrition funding.

It does not at this stage appear to include additional dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS). HCBS funding is urgently needed to help disabled people and older adults live safely in their homes rather than being forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings where COVID-19 is rampant.

You can find the latest on COVID-19 legislation and proposed legislation here and more on advocacy efforts can be found below.

Overview

On October 1, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act, the COVID-19 relief package it had originally passed in May, in an effort to continue negotiations on much needed additional coronavirus relief and talks between House leadership and the White House have been ongoing. On October 6 President Trump announced a halt to those efforts until after the election, but he has since appeared to backtrack on that.

The needs of the disability community are not addressed in the coronavirus relief proposals that the Administration has to date said it is willing to consider. Specifically, the Administration’s proposals have not included the additional funding for home and community based services (HCBS) that is so desperately needed right now to help people with disabilities and older adults remain safely in their homes rather than being forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings, where infections and deaths from COVID-19 are rampant. We urge everyone to please contact your members of Congress and tell them that disabled people need relief and we need it now!

The House’s revised bill (also known as HEROES 2.0) includes that dedicated HCBS funding and many of our community’s other urgent priorities, like additional funding for Medicaid and for critical housing and nutrition programs. You can find a quick comparison of the revised bill and the Senate’s recent coronavirus proposals here. For more on what is and is not included in the new version of the HEROES Act, check out the list we’ve put together here, which we will continue to update as we review the bill. You can also find additional summaries of the bill on our website. For more on HCBS and why dedicated HCBS funding is so important to the fight against COVID-19, check out our HCBS COVID-19 fact sheet

Please contact your members of Congress! It’s important that they hear from us about why disability priorities matter! You can email and tweet your members of Congress directly here and you can also find more information below, including call and email scripts.

Contact Your Members of Congress

URGENT: Republicans are facing pressure to remove critical funding for long term services and supports, which can be used for home and community based services (HCBS) from the current bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal, so we need to push them to keep it and we need to do it NOW. Along with contacting your members of Congress, please also consider contacting the Republican leadership, members of the Appropriations Committee, and negotiators on the bipartisan proposal listed below.

Leadership:

Appropriations Committee Members:

Negotiators:

 

Contact Your Members of Congress

  • Email: We’ve put together a portal you can use to email your members of Congress directly here using our email script. 
  • Call: Call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (tty) and ask to be connected to your members of Congress.
  • Social Media: You can use this tool to easily tweet your members of Congress using our sample tweets below.

Easy Email/Call Script:

Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State]. 

I am [writing/calling] [Senator’s or Representative’s Name] because the needs of disabled people, which have so far been unmet during this crisis, must be part of any future coronavirus relief bills.

Additional relief must include funding for home and community-based services (HCBS), like that found in the bipartisan proposal that has been announced. HCBS funding is desperately needed to help disabled people and older adults remain safely in their homes rather than being forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings, which have had serious COVID-19 outbreaks. HCBS funding will save lives, and we need it now. Please urge leadership not to remove this critical funding!

To that end, the upcoming budget bill also must include a long-term extension of the Money Follows the Person program (MFP). MFP has helped over 91,000 disabled people and older adults transition from congregate settings back to the community, but without the certainty of long term funding, many states have had to slow or completely shut down their MFP programs. Transitioning people back into the community can save lives. Please support MFP.

Thank you!

[IF EMAILING OR LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your email or call is tallied]

Sample Tweets

[Your Senator’s/Representative’s Twitter Handle] We need #CovidRelief now, especially additional #HCBS funding to help disabled people access services safely at home, not in institutions w/ severe #COVID19 outbreaks. The most recent bipartisan proposal is a good start. #DoYourJob & get us #WhatWeNeed!

[Your Senator’s/Representative’s Twitter Handle] We need #CovidRelief now. #DoYourJob & get us #WhatWeNeed, including additional #HCBS funding! HCBS gives me the power to [your story here]

[Your Senator’s/Representative’s Twitter Handle] Money Follows the Person helps disabled people & older adults transition from congregate settings back to the community. MFP can save lives during #COVID19 but states need long term funding to keep programs going, not another short term extension. #FundMFP now!

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