COVID-19 Advocacy

Update: August 7, 2020

Getting the next COVID-19 bill passed before Congress recesses is at risk. Negotiations on the Senate’s latest COVID-19 relief package, the HEALS Act, may end without a deal before Congress leaves on recess, so we need to keep up our advocacy!

If negotiations end and Senators go home without a deal being reached, it’s likely nothing more will be done until at least Labor Day, or possibly later. What we need can’t wait that long, so please push your Senators not to go home for August recess until a new COVID-19 bill is passed that meets the needs of disabled people. You can find more information below, including call and email scripts.

Rather than releasing the HEALS Act as a single bill, it was 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.

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 Call/Email Script

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

I am [calling/writing] to ask [Senator’s Name] to make sure that the Senate passes a new COVID-19 relief bill before leaving for August recess that meets the needs of the millions of people in this country with disabilities, who are among those most affected by this crisis.

Dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) is desperately needed to help people with disabilities 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. The House included dedicated funding for HCBS in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), and it is critical that the Senate do the same (with a clarification that all HCBS, including community mental health services, are included). This cannot wait. Dedicated HCBS funding will save lives and we need it now.
 
I also ask that you oppose the provisions in the HEALS Act that would shield businesses, non-profits, schools, or medical providers from liability for serious harm related to COVID-19. Allowing entities to escape liability for their actions during this crisis threatens the safety of people with disabilities and older adults in congregate settings, makes it easier for employers to engage in discrimination and safety violations in the workplace, and allows businesses to refuse to accommodate disabled people.
 
Thank you!

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

[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] don’t leave DC without 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] don’t leave DC without 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:
 
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:

Please follow and like us: