COVID-19 Legislation

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 advocacy and overview pages, as we review the bill.

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 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. A major focus will be on additional funding for HCBS 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.

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, including:

  • Funding for HCBS grants, like those in the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (S. 3544/H.R. 6305) 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
  • Access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct care workers and increased production of PPE and ventilators
  • Increased funding for the housing programs and funds 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
  • Disaster relief that is responsive to the needs of the disability community, which will be disproportionately impacting by additional disaster events that occur during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please contact your members of Congress and Congressional leadership now to tell them why disability priorities matter and must be included in the next round of legislation. An email script and details on #WeAreEssential weeks of action can be found on our advocacy page.

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.

Proposed Legislation

Proposed Legislation

  • Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) (Text | Summary)
    • One page summary of bill
    • One page summary of state and local fiscal relief provisions
  • Nursing Home COVID–19 Protection and Prevention Act of 2020 (Text | Summary)
  • 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)
  • 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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