COVID-19 Public Policy
Update: March 11, 2021
President Biden has signed the latest COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, into law. Thanks to your advocacy, the bill includes the dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) that we have been fighting for since the beginning of the pandemic, along with other important disability priorities. HCBS funding is critical to help individuals with disabilities and older adults remain safely in their home rather than being forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings that have faced severe COVID-19 outbreaks.
Work on a new coronavirus relief bill began with the release of the Biden-Harris administration’s $1.9 trillion proposed COVID-19 relief plan. The plan included many important priorities, including full federal Medicaid funding for administration of vaccines and additional housing and nutrition funding. It also, importantly, would phase out the subminimum wage, including for people with disabilities.
It did not, however, 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.
Ten Republicans then met with President Biden to discuss a $600 billion proposal. That proposal has so far failed to gain momentum.
Congress has now begun moving forward with new coronavirus relief. On February 27, the House passed a new coronavirus relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act. The relief provided largely matches the Biden Administration’s proposal, but importantly would also include dedicated funding for HCBS. You can find more information on that bill and other COVID relief proposals on our legislation page.
The disability community has been fighting for dedicated HCBS funding since the start of the pandemic. 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. The American Rescue Plan Act is now in the Senate and we need to make sure this critical funding remains in the bill.
Please take a moment now to contact your Senators! It’s important that they hear from us about why this funding matters! We have set up a portal you can use to email them directly here. More information about contacting your Senators, including an email and call script and sample tweets, is also available below.
For more on what disability priorities are and are not included in the American Rescue Plan Act, check out our fact sheet. You can find more information on passed and proposed COVID-19 bills on our legislation page.
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.
Contact Your Senators
- Email: We’ve put together a portal you can use to email your Senators directly here.
- 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.
Easy Email/Call Script:
Hi, my name is [Name], and I’m from [City, State].
I am [calling/writing] to urge you to make sure the dedicated funding for Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS) passed by the House remains in the final COVID-19 package. It is critical that you to include the needs of disabled people in this package.
We have seen rampant rates of infection and death in congregate settings. Many disabled people rely on HCBS to live in their own homes, but people are struggling to stay there. Without more funding, many more people will be forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings, where they will be at much greater risk of catching COVID-19. The need for dedicated HCBS funding is more urgent than ever.
Thank you for your time. I hope I can count on you to protect your disabled constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL OR EMAILING: please leave your full street address and zip code. This will ensure your call or email is tallied]
[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] The Senate must pass the #AmericanRescuePlan. We need the targeted #Medicaid #HCBS funding in the bill now to help older adults & disabled people receive the services & supports they need at home, where they are at less risk of #COVID19. #MedicaidCantWait
[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] Congress MUST fund Medicaid home and community-based services in the #AmericanRescuePlan. #HCBS ensure disabled people can access the services we need safely at home – not in dangerous institutions where #COVID19 outbreaks are rampant. #MedicaidCantWait
[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] About half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in congregate settings. Dedicated funding for Medicaid #HCBS must be in the #AmericanRescuePlan so disabled people & older adults can stay safely at home w/ the services & supports we need. #MedicaidCantWait
[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] Disabled people are facing serious risks from #COVID19. The Senate MUST protect their disabled constituents by keeping dedicated Medicaid #HCBS funding in the #AmericanRescuePlan. #MedicaidCantWait
[Your Senator’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. #DoYourJob & get us #WhatWeNeed! #MedicaidCantWait #AmericanRescuePlan
[Your Senator’s Twitter Handle] The additional #HCBS funding the House included in the #AmericanRescuePlan is critical in the fight against #COVID19! HCBS gives me the power to [your story here]