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.
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.