COVID-19 Advocacy

Update: May 15, 2020

Today, the House passed a new relief package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800). The bill addresses many of the disability community’s most urgent priorities, including additional funding for home and community based services, Medicaid, and housing programs and hazard pay for direct service providers. It has now been sent to the Senate, though when the Senate will take it up remains unclear.

For more on what priorities are and are not included in the HEROES Act, check out our summary here. A section-by-section summary of the bill is also available here. The House Appropriations Committee has also made available a one page summary of bill and a one page summary of state and local fiscal relief provisions.

We will continue to update this page, along with our COVID-19 overview and legislation pages, as we review the bill.

Overview

Congress is currently negotiating the next COVID-19 package and we are working closely with our allies to promote inclusion of the disability community priorities that were not included in the CARES Act. We need your help now to push Congress to include those priorities in the next COVID-19 package!

Disability organizations, including CPR, sent a letter to Congressional leadership identifying the most critical priorities for the disability community that must be addressed in the next round of legislation and have also drafted a list of priorities we will continue to advocate for, including additional funding for home and community based services (HCBS) to help people with disabilities and older adults remain in their own homes, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct care workers and increased production of PPE and ventilators, civil rights protections for people with disabilities, including the provision of funding for safe and accessible voting, and increased funding for housing programs.

Our top priority for the next COVID-19 bill is additional HCBS funding. HCBS funding is critical to help people with disabilities and seniors avoid unnecessary placement in congregate settings (such as nursing homes), which are especially dangerous during this crisis. The Community Living Policy Center has put together an excellent brief detailing the HCBS COVID-19 response proposal and why it’s so important to include in the next response package that you can read here.

Please contact your members of Congress! Many offices are not able to receive calls at the moment, so we recommend using email and social media and have included an email script and information on contacting your members of Congress on Facebook and Twitter below.

Additionally, the disability community has come together to organize weeks of action, happening now, to bring our priorities to Congress’ attention. We encourage everyone to please tell your HCBS story as part of the #WeAreEssential campaign! You can find more details below or in this toolkit.

Contact Your Members of Congress

Contact your Members of Congress:

  1. Email is the best way to contact your members right now. You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress. This tool also has links to each member’s Twitter and Facebook and a link to contact them via email.
  2. This tool can also be used to easily tweet your members of Congress or Congressional leadership
  3. You can also email your members directly through this portal put together by our friends at The Arc, focusing on HCBS funding.

Easy Email Script:

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

I am writing to [Senator’s or Representative’s Name] because I believe it is critical that any legislation passed in response to COVID-19 meets the needs of the millions of people in this country with disabilities, who are among those most affected by this crisis. The House’s new bill, the HEROES Act, addresses many of those needs that were unmet by previous legislation, and I urge you to please make sure those important provisions remain in the final bill.

Some of the most critical provisions include:

  • Funding for home and community based services (HCBS), to help people with disabilities and older adults remain in their homes rather than in congregate settings, where they face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19
  • Hazard pay and access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct care workers, who are on the front lines of this crisis
  • Increased funding for the housing programs that help people with disabilities obtain accessible, affordable, integrated housing, and avoid unnecessary placement in congregate settings, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, as well as protection against evictions and foreclosures throughout the crisis
  • Provision of recovery rebates to all people with disabilities, including adults who may be claimed as dependents

Thank you!

[Please include your full street address and zip code to ensure your email is tallied]

Please also consider contacting Congressional leadership as well. Those members are:

Senate:

House of Representatives:

Weeks of Action

The disability community has organized four weeks of action as part of the #WeAreEssential campaign. This week’s focus is on home and community based services (HCBS). Please participate in the week of action happening now to bring the need for HCBS funding to Congress’ attention using the hashtag #WeAreEssential and the social media day of action this Thursday, April 30:

Week of 4/27/20: Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)

Post Your Own Video:

  • Tell Congress what must be included for people with disabilities in the next coronavirus relief bill.
  • Record a video that answers the prompt: If I don’t have healthy, safe staff to support me_____________.
  • Post using the hashtag #WeAreEssential and tag your Congressperson (you can find them easily here)

Sample Tweets:

  • People with disabilities in congregate settings are experiencing a surge in #COVID19 infections. Congress must act now to protect them. #WeAreEssential
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-disabilities-group-homes.html
  • Outbreaks of #COVID19 in nursing homes, psychiatric institutions & other congregate settings are spiking. But home & community based services remain woefully underfunded. Congress must fix this in their fourth Coronavirus response package. #WeAreEssential
  • My civil rights and my life will be at stake if I cannot stay in my home during the #coronavirus outbreak. Congress needs to support home & community based services in coronavirus relief! #WeAreEssential
  • People with disabilities and older adults use home & community based services to bathe, eat, work, and live in their homes and communities. During times of crisis, funding these services becomes even more critical. #WeAreEssential
  • People with disabilities and the workforce that cares for them are essential. It’s time Congress recognized that. #WeAreEssential
  • Person centered health services are vital. They allow disabled people to receive necessary care in their homes and community. Now is not the time to forgo home and community based services. #WeAreEssential
  • Home and community based services are not a matter of preference during the COVID-19 outbreak. They are necessary. #WeAreEssential

You can use this tool to easily tweet your members of Congress or Congressional leadership. More details on this week of action and prior weeks can be found in this toolkit.

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