Disability Policy News

March 16, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                March 16, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 11

CDC COVID-19 image


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) was passed by the House last week. This bill funds key parts of the response to the new pandemic including:

  • Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured
    • Includes $1 billion for the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services provided to individuals without health insurance
    • Includes $64 million for the Indian Health Service to cover the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for American Indians receiving care through the Indian Health Service or through an Urban Indian Health Organization
  • Paid emergency leave with days of paid sick leave
    • Full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period
      • This provision expires on December 31, 2020
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance, to protect to people unable to work
    • $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance
  • Increase funding for food security programs, including SNAP, student meals, seniors nutrition and food banks including $100 million for U.S. territories for additional nutrition assistance 
    • The requirement to go in person to WIC will be waived for participants
  • Clear protections for workers, including health care workers and other workers who are in contact with those who have been exposed or are responsible for cleaning at-risk places

  • Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs
    • Provides a temporary increase to percentage a state gets from the federal government to cover Medicaid cost for the duration of the public health emergency for COVID-19
    • Requires states to maintain eligibility standards that are no less restrictive than the date of enactment
    • Provide an increase in Medicaid Allotments for Territories for 2020 and 2021

The Senate plans to consider the bill this week; if passed it will go to the White House to be signed into law.

Plain Language:

  • The House passed a bill to deal with a new virus. The Senate needs to pass the bill before it can be signed into law.

What this means to you:

  • Information about COVID-19 is changing. It is helpful to stay up to date by checking the guidance from the CDC.

Action steps:

  • All but 40 members of the House voted for the bill; check the list to see how your member voted; if they voted yes call them to thank them.
  • The Senate is under pressure to act quickly. Call both of your Senators and urge them to vote yes.
  • United States Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (S.3489) to support students, teachers, and other school staff as the spread of coronavirus continues to cause school closures across the country. This bill includes:

  • Providing resources to help schools plan for closures, including planning for how to provide meals, how to provide technology to all students, and how to ensure other educational services for students can continue.
  • Supporting efforts to clean and sanitize educational facilities, including providing training to educators and staff on how to ensure buildings are safe for students' return and to coordinate response efforts with public health departments.
  • Ensuring early childhood programs stay operational, including helping with emergency staffing needs.
  • Providing emergency financial aid for college students in need of food, housing, and child care, following abrupt school closures.
  • Providing students with relief from paying back Pell Grants or repaying student loans for disrupted terms.
  • Allowing American students enrolled in foreign colleges abroad to continue their studies without disruption.
  • Increasing funding for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, addressing stress and mental health needs associated with the spread of the virus.
Plain Language:
  • The government is spending emergency money to deal with a new virus. It is called a pandemic which means a disease that has spread across the world.

What this means to you:

  • Information about COVID-19 is changing. It is helpful to stay up to date by checking the guidance from the CDC.

Action steps:

Senate Committee on Finance logoMoney Follows the Person

The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (S.2543), introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has received bipartisan support. Additional support and education about the need for Money Follows the Person and Spousal Impoverishment are needed.

Plain Language:

  • The Senate is getting closer to voting on a bill to try to make medications cost less.

What this means to you:

  • Drug pricing impacts many people with disabilities, so making sure that changes will meet needs is critical. In addition, if this legislation moves it will likely have other priorities of the disability community attached to its passage, most notably a long-awaited permanent expansion of Money Follows the Person.

Action Steps:

  • Contact your Senators especially on the Finance Committee to share what is important to you about drug pricing reform and the importance of the MFP program and Spousal Impoverishment.


Older Americans Act

The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R.4334) passed the Senate. This reauthorizes the Older Americans Act, including the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). It removes a 10% cap on funding for services for "older relative caregivers," a term that includes family caregivers of adults with disabilities ages 18-59. It will be sent to the President to be signed.

Plain Language:

  • Congress passed a bill to help Older Americans.

What this means to you:

  • The NFCSP provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services.

Action Steps:

  • Contact your Members of Congress to thank them for their support: United States Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121


Affordable Care Act

Next week, March 23rd marks the 10-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the decade since its enactment, the ACA has covered and protected millions of Americans. Former President Obama recorded this new video in advance of the anniversary to highlight the importance of his signature health care law.  

Plain Language:

  • People are celebrating 10 years since the Affordable Care Act.

What this means to you:

  • The ACA allowed 20 million Americans to receive health coverage and continues to ensure protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. 

Action Step:

  • Share your healthcare story on social media and use the following hashtags: #ACA10 and #ProtectOurCare.


Disability Policy Seminar

We have made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the AUCD Policy Forum and Disability Policy Seminar. We will not be hosting any in-person activities at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. If you have not already cancelled your travel arrangements, please do so unless you are intending to be in DC for other reasons. Learn more about virtual activities happening:


AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

As we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, #AUCDPolicyTalk will be featuring a blog series from individuals with ID/DD about the terms advocate and self-advocate. The series continues with Julie Petty. #DDawareness2020

Action Steps:

AUCD logoLove Policy? We do too!

Check out AUCD's new policy resource, a one-page fact sheet to help explain AUCD's policy efforts, and engage with us today!


image of person writing. Text: Fellowship
AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship
Applications are open for the full year (June 2020-May 2021) AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship. Persons with disabilities or family members, and persons from culturally diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

Tuesdays With Liz:

Medicaid Buy-Ins with Christine Brown

Medicaid can be confusing to understand. We know PWDs want to work and still be on Medicaid. Learn from Ohio advocate Christine Brown about what Medicaid Buy-Ins are and how they affect people with disabilities. To learn more about Medicaid, visit https://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=277.


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