COVID-19 Advocacy

Update: September 10, 2020

Senate Republicans’ new “skinny” coronavirus relief bill, which didn’t include any of the disability community’s priorities, has failed to get enough votes to move forward.

We encourage everyone to please contact your Senators now and tell them to work together to pass coronavirus relief legislation actually meets the needs of disabled people. You can find more information below, including call and email scripts or you can email your Senators directly here.

Our summary of what disability priorities are and are not included in the bill is available here and for a quick comparison of the Senate’s recent coronavirus relief proposals and the HEROES Act passed by the House, click here.

Overview

The Senate has released a new coronavirus relief package, the HEALS Act. Unlike the HEROES Act passed by the House in May, the bill fails to address the disability community’s most urgent priorities, including additional funding for home and community based services (HCBS), which is desperately needed to help people with disabilities stay in their own homes and out of congregate settings, where they face a higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. 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

The HEALS Act would also shield businesses, non-profits, schools, or medical providers from liability for serious harm related to COVID-19, which would threaten the safety of people with disabilities and older adults in congregate settings, make it easier for employers to escape liability for discrimination and safety violations in the workplace, and allow businesses to refuse to accommodate disabled people.

We need everyone to take action and push your Senators to include our priorities in the relief package that ultimately passes the Senate, so please contact them now! You can find more information below, including call and email scripts and sample social media. More information on our advocacy for people in congregate settings, including around liability issues, can be found here.

Rather than releasing the HEALS Act as a single bill, it has been released as a series of bills. You can find information on each of those bills here. For more on what priorities are and are not included in the HEALS Act, check out our summary here and for a quick comparison of the HEALS Act and the HEROES Act, click here.

Contact Your Senators

Contact your Senators

  • Email: We’ve put together a portal you can use to email your Senators 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 Senators.
  • Social Media: You can use this tool to easily tweet your Senators using our sample tweets below.
  • We are also co-hosting call-in days every Wednesday and we encourage everyone to participate! You can find call-in scripts and more information here.

Easy Email/Call Script:

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

I am [writing/calling] to ask [Senator’s Name] to make sure that the Senate does its job and passes a new COVID-19 relief bill that meets the needs of people with disabilities. Neither of the bills proposed by the Senate thus far, the HEALS Act or the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, address the disability community’s priorities and I ask that you work with your colleagues to pass a bill that does.

Dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) is desperately needed to help disabled people and older adults remain safely in their homes rather than being forced in nursing homes and other congregate settings, where infections and deaths from COVID-19 are rampant. Dedicated HCBS funding will save lives, and we need it now.

I also ask that you oppose the inclusion of provisions such as those in the HEALS Act and the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act that would shield businesses, non-profits, schools, or medical providers from liability for serious harm related to COVID-19. These provisions threaten the safety of people with disabilities and older adults in congregate settings and make it easier for employers to engage in discrimination and safety violations in the workplace, and for businesses to refuse to accommodate disabled people.

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 Twitter Handle] It’s time to #DoYourJob and pass a new #COVID19 bill that includes #WhatWeNeed! Dedicated #HCBS funding is needed right now so people with disabilities can access the services they need safely at home, not in institutions with severe COVID-19 outbreaks.

[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] #DoYourJob and pass a new #COVID19 bill that has #WhatWeNeed, especially dedicated #HCBS funding! HCBS gives me the power to [your story here]

[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] People w/ disabilities in long term care facilities face a far higher risk of infection & death from #COVID19. The next relief bill should not include liability protections that let those facilities off the hook for their actions during this crisis.

[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] Civil rights and employment protections are more important now than ever. #COVID19 should not be an excuse to waive protections and shield business, medical providers, & schools from liability for their actions during this crisis.

Senators from the following states are on the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicaid funding, and are particularly important to contact:

CO, DE, IA, ID, IN, KS, NY, LA, MD, MI, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, VA, WA, WY

HCBS stories from these states are particularly helpful, so please spread the word!

Please also consider contacting Senate leadership and Senate Finance Committee leadership as well. Those members are:

Senate Leadership:

Senate Finance Committee Leadership:

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