COVID-19

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.

For more on what disability priorities are and are not included in the American Rescue Plan Act, check out our fact sheet. More on the bill is also available on our COVID-19 legislation page.

Overview

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has hit the disability community especially hard. In response to the pandemic, state and local governments around the country have declared states of emergency and issue stay at home orders. On March 13, 2020 former President Trump announced a national state of emergency to make additional funding available to combat the continued spread of COVID-19. However, there is still much that needs to be done to address the needs of people with disabilities and below we detail the response from Congress and federal agencies, along with the ways that the disability community is advocating for our needs to be included in the federal response to this crisis.

Congressional Response

On March 18, 2020 Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes increased Medicaid funding, emergency paid leave, increased funding for food assistance, and free coronavirus testing. Senate Republicans then introduced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which, following much negotiation, passed the Senate on March 25 and the House on March 27. The final bill included some of the disability community’s priorities, but many were omitted and we are now working to ensure those are included in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation.

On March 10, 2021 Congress passed a $1.9 trillion 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, included designated and increased funding for home and community-based services (HCBS), for which the disability community has fought for since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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. 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 were not included in CARES and American Rescue Plan Act. 

You can find more details on all of the passed and proposed legislation on our COVID-19 legislation page

Federal Agency Response

Federal agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Administration for Community Living (ACL), and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) have released guidance and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak.  We will continue to monitor those efforts as well to ensure the needs of the entire disability community are addressed by the guidance and resources released by agencies. You can find relevant guidance and resources from federal agencies below.

This page and our other COVID-19 webpages will continue to be updated throughout the crisis. Below are resources related to the coronavirus and its impact on people with disabilities and you can find additional information on our COVID-19 advocacy, congregate settings advocacy, legislation, waiver, and medical rationing and hospital visitor policies pages.

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