COVID-19 Legislation

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 here, 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

Congress has so far passed three relief packages and one interim package in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074)
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)
  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748)
    • The 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

Below is an overview of what we hope to see in the fourth legislative package and details on passed legislation. Links to text and summaries of all of the passed and proposed legislation are included at the bottom of the page. Advocacy related to the fourth legislative package has already begun and it is currently being developed, so continued pressure to ensure disability priorities are included is critical. 

Package 4: In progress

CPR and other disability organizations are already working on advocacy for the next COVID-19 package being negotiated in Congress. We are working closely with our allies to promote inclusion of the disability community priorities that were not included in the CARES Act. 

More must be done to meet the needs of people with disabilities and it must be done now. Given the fast-moving nature of this crisis, it’s crucial that Congress work quickly to pass legislation that recognizes the outsized impact this is having and will continue to have on disabled people. 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, especially dedicated funding for home and community based services (HCBS).

Additional funding for HCBS is critical to help people with disabilities and seniors remain in their own homes. HCBS funding is critical to help people with disabilities and seniors avoid unnecessary placements in congregate settings (such as nursing homes), where they face a heightened risk of infection and of violation of their civil rights, as well as unnecessary hospitalization, where people with disabilities may be at heightened risk for being denied life-saving care. For more info on the basics of HCBS and why additional HCBS funding is so important to the fight against COVID-19, check out our HCBS COVID-19 fact sheet

The Senate is about to begin negotiating the fourth COVID-19 relief package and we need to push to make sure dedicated HCBS funding is included, so please contact your Senators and Senate leadership now. More information can be found on our advocacy page, including information on contacting your Senators, email and call scripts, and sample social media. 

In May, the House passed a new relief package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) that addressed 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. However, the Senate will not be working from the HEROES Act in creating the relief package we expect will be introduced shortly after Senators return from recess on July 20th.

For more on what priorities were and were 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 the bill and a one page summary of state and local fiscal relief provisions. We will update this page with information on the forthcoming Senate proposal when it is released.

Below are details on previously passed legislation in response to COVID-19, proposed legislation, and additional resources.

Package 1: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074)

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.

Package 2: The Families First Act (H.R. 6201)

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.

A summary of the bill can be found here and a summary of the paid leave provisions specifically can be found here.

Package 3: The CARES Act (H.R. 748)

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.

Package 3.5: The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266)

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.

Package 4: In Progress

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 (TextSummary)
  • 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)
  • Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act (Text)
  • Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act (Text | 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.

For more on what priorities are and are not included in the HEROES Act, check out our summary here and for a quick comparison of the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act, click here.

Additional Proposed Legislation

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) (TextSummary)
  • 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:

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