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.
Congress has so far passed five relief packages and one interim package in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748)
- Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266)- an interim bill with additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, coronavirus testing, and other priorities from the CARES Act
- Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133)
- American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319)
Below are details on the bills passed in response to COVID-19, and additional proposed legislation, along with related resources.
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed into law on March 6, 2020, provides $8.3 billion to federal agencies to respond to the crisis and allows for the temporary waiver of certain restrictions and requirements within Medicare related to telehealth services. The funding supports, among other things:
- Preparation and procurement of vaccines and other medical supplies needed to respond to COVID-19
- Grants to help public health organizations and agencies to prepare for and respond to COVID-19
- Includes reimbursement for costs incurred before the bill passed
- Loans for small businesses affected by the pandemic
- International aid and aid for emergency evacuations and embassy preparedness
You can read a summary of the bill here.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18, 2020, contains some critical responses to the COVID-19 crisis, including increased Medicaid funding, emergency paid leave, increased funding for food assistance, and free coronavirus testing. However, the bill does not respond to all the gaps in crisis response. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, of which CPR is a co-chair, sent a letter in support of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and identifying further areas where legislation is needed.
The Families First Act includes a 6.2% increase in federal matching Medicaid funds, which is a good start, but not enough additional Medicaid funding to ensure state Medicaid systems can handle the high health care costs and increased enrollment and need for Medicaid anticipated to be a consequence of this crisis. It also did not include the crucial HCBS grants discussed above.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act , signed into law on March 27, 2020, took some important steps that were necessary to meet the demands of this crisis, but more still must be done to address the needs of people with disabilities related to the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the disability community’s priorities. Among other things, the CARES Act ensures that direct cash assistance to people during the crisis is available to all people (including people on SSI and SSDI) and won’t count against means tested programs like Medicaid; includes a short-term extension of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program; and contains additional funding for education, housing, nutrition, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and some aging programs.
Many critical disability priorities, however, did not make it into the bill. Those include additional grant funding for the home and community-based services (HCBS) on which many people with disabilities rely; recognition of direct care workers as essential personnel; and additional funding for Medicaid, Social Security, and SSI. Furthermore, there are still barriers to accessing direct cash payments for some people with disabilities. For more on what was and was not included in the CARES Act, check out the list we’ve put together here. You can read the supplemental appropriations provisions here and a summary of those provisions here.
On April 23, 2020, Congress passed interim legislation to provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, coronavirus testing, and other priorities from the CARES Act. A section-by-section summary is available here. That legislation is being termed package “3.5” because of its connection to the CARES Act and is not the full relief package that we have been, and will continue to be, fighting for. That relief package is currently being negotiated and we are working to ensure that disability priorities are included. You can find information on our efforts and how you can help on our advocacy page.
Consolidated Appropriations Act
On December 27, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law. The bill includes both general government funding and coronavirus relief provisions. While the coronavirus relief provisions include some urgently needed aid, Congress once again failed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. We urge the incoming Biden Administration and Congress to begin work on a new coronavirus relief package quickly in January. The bill is expected to be signed into law shortly.
The COVID-19 relief provisions do not include dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) that 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. Additional stimulus checks are also provided, but adults with disabilities who qualify as dependents are again unfairly excluded.
The government funding portion of the bill, however, does extend funding for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program for three years, along with spousal impoverishment protections.
Congress has also released the following summaries of the bill:
On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. The bill includes the dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) that the disability community has been fighting for since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 are often the center of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The bill also addresses other priorities. It contains $1,400 stimulus checks that, unlike stimulus checks provided in previous relief bills, adult dependents are eligible to receive. It also provides much needed nutrition and education funding and state aid.
The bill varies slightly from the original version, passed by the House on February 27. A summary of the changes is available here. More on what disability priorities were and were not included in that version can be found here. A comparison of the disability priorities included in the final version of the bill and the original version can be found here.
Relief Package Proposals
Revised HEROES Act
On October 1, 2020, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act, which it originally passed back in May. It has a lower cost estimate than the original HEROES Act, but the list of included priorities largely remains the same.
For more on what priorities are and are not included in the revised bill, check out our summary here. For a quick comparison of the how the revised HEROES Act (also known as HEROES 2.0) compares with the Senate’s coronavirus relief proposals, click here.
Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act
The Senate released this proposal on July 27, 2020. The package was released as a series of bills instead of one single bill. Below are details on those bills. 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.
- Coronavirus Response Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (Text | Summary)
- SAFE TO WORK Act (Text | Summary)
- Safely Back to Work and Back to School Act (Summary)
- American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act (S.4318) (Text | Summary)
- Time to Rescue United States Trusts Act of 2020 (TRUST Act) (Text | Summary)
- One pager on TRUST Act
- Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act (Text)
- Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act (Text | Summary)
- One page summary
- Supporting America’s Restaurant Workers Act (Text)
Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800)
The House released this proposed fourth relief package in May 2020. Bill text is available here and a section-by-section summary is available here. The House also released a one page summary of bill and a one page summary of state and local fiscal relief provisions.
Additional COVID-19 Related Proposed Legislation
- Nursing Home COVID–19 Protection and Prevention Act of 2020 (Text | Summary)
- Coronavirus Emergency Non-Congregate Housing Expansion Act (H.R. 6840) (Text)
- COVID-19 Emergency Housing Relief Act of 2020 (H.R. 6806) (Text)
- Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID–19 Act of 2020 (Text | Summary)
- COVID-19 Emergency Manufacturing Act (Text | Summary)
- Federal Immigrant Release for Safety and Security Together (FIRST) Act (Text)
- Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379) (Text | Summary)
- Food Assistance for Kids and Families During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (S. 3563) (Text | Summary)
- Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (S. 3544) (Text | Summary)
- Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (H.R. 6305) (Text | Summary)
- PAID Leave Act (Text | Summary)
- Pandemic Assistance Disaster Act (Text)
- Coronavirus TANF Expansion Act (Text)
- Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Act (Text)
- Coronavirus Unemployment Insurance Expansion Act (Text)
- Coronavirus Credit Expansion Act (Text)
Additional Legislative Proposals:
- Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief proposal from Congressional Democrats (4/8/20)
- The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” proposed by Senate Democrats to provide a pay increase for essential workers and funds to incentivize recruitment (4/7/20)
- Memo from Sen. Schumer (D-NY) detailing proposed emergency appropriations and policy responses (3/17/20)
- Overview of the Medicaid-Related Provisions of the Coronavirus Response Packages (National Health Law Program, 4/2/20)
- Coronavirus Stimulus Payments – Recovery Rebates (The Arc, 3/27/20)