Disability Policy News

March 23, 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 23, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 12

These are difficult and uncertain times. The policy team writes with hopes you are all safe and well.  We hope the following empowers you to share your voice with policymakers during this emergency and beyond.

CDC COVID-19 image


Congress and the administration are responding the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways. It is important in the fast-moving decision process that the various relief and safety efforts meet the needs of people with disabilities.


Congressional Efforts:



What is means for People with Disabilities

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020

Became Law on March 6, 2020

The bill requires that agencies "pay back" money that was moved from programs like NIDILRR and emergency heat funding to start to respond to the crisis  

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Became law on March 19, 2020

Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. Increased paid leave. Enhanced Unemployment Insurance to people unable to work. Increased funding for food security programs. Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

( S. 3548)

Negotiations ongoing as of Monday morning, March 23rd

$1200 checks to people in certain tax brackets. Major small and large business subsidies. Directs the Secretary of Education to come back in 30 days with a list of waivers needed for Congress to provide under IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Gives the Secretary of Education broad waiver authority over the HEA, ESEA and Perkins. 

Phase 4 and beyond

Almost certainly needed

Your voices are needed to make sure the needs of people with disabilities are addressed

Additional proposed legislation to address the needs of people with disabilities that should be considered andincluded in Phase 3 or 4 packages:

  • H.R.6275 - To support children and students in responding to safety and health risks presented by qualifying emergencies
  • S. 3517 - A bill to increase the ability of nursing facilities to access to telehealth services and obtain technologies to allow virtual visits during the public health emergency relating to an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and for other purposes
  • S.3513 the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act) would fill the gaps left by the paid sick days and paid leave provisions in the Families First Act and would create permanent paid sick days and paid leave programs
  • S. 3536 - A bill to provide for special enrollment periods during public health emergencies, coverage of services related to public health emergencies
  • S.3544 -A bill to assist older Americans and people with disabilities affected by COVID-19
  • H.R.6305 -To assist older Americans and people with disabilities affected by COVID-19 (a companion bill to S. 3544)
  • S.3497 -A bill to provide unemployment assistance to individuals affected by COVID-19
  • S.3489 - Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act to support students, teachers, and other school staff as the spread of coronavirus continues to cause school closures across the country

The above proposed legislation includes many of the needs of people with disabilities such as:

  • Funding for HCBS services
  • Funding and flexibility to support Direct Support Professional (DSPs)
  • Funding for and protection of IDEA instruction related services
  • Flexibility for prescription drug refills
  • Twenty percent increases in SSI/SSDI payment through the emergency public health period
  • Increase in SNAP and Meals on Wheels funding and expansion of eligibility to include people with disabilities

Plain Language:

  • The government is spending emergency money to deal with a new virus. This is called a pandemic, which means a disease that has spread across the world. Lots of these bills do not include the needs of people with disabilities.

What this means to you:

  • More than 105 million Americans-or about 4 in 10 adults-are at heightened risk if infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including older adults, people with disabilities and those with underlying health conditions. The front-line workers and family caregivers who support these individuals also face increased risks, requiring additional resources and supports to protect their health and well-being.

Action steps:

Call your Members of Congress:

  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators.
  • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.

justice weightsCivil Rights Protections

Congressional leaders are using various strategies to respond to the needs of people during COVID-19. This includes letters to federal agencies requesting clarification, guidance, and public statements for the record that the rights of people are to be preserved and protected, not waived. These include:

white house sealAdministrative Action

The Executive branch is using its powers to respond to the growing impacts on people and the economy during COVID-19. Many of these policy changes do not require Congressional approval.  Here is what has been done so far:


Extending the April 15th tax filing date to July 15th

checklistCampaign 2020

Both Republican former Governor Bill Weld of Massachusetts and Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the 2020 Democratic Presidential race. The race narrows as state primaries are being delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay up to date with the current candidates and where they stand on disability policy:

Democratic Candidates:

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Republican Candidates:

President Donald Trump

Businessman Rocky De La Fuente

DPS cancelled

Disability Policy Seminar

While in-person DPS is canceled, we will be hosting virtual events this week!

Are you an Emerging Leader or new to policy advocacy and education? Are you interested in talking more about what's happening in federal policy? Are you ready to connect with your Members of Congress? AUCD is offering THREE virtual policy events; register now!

AUCD will offer three virtual options in the place of our planned events.

  1. AUCD Policy Forum: Scheduled on Sunday 3/22 from will now be held Monday 3/23 from 12-1:15pm EST via webinar 
  2. AUCD Policy Committee Meeting: Scheduled on Monday 3/22 will now be held
    Tuesday 3/24 from 4-5pm EST via webinar 
  3. Hill Visit Day:
    • Scheduled by you on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Contact your Member of Congress' staffers to switch visits to phone meetings.
    • AUCD will provide scripts, materials and guidance to host a National Virtual Hill Day.

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

"Life has never been fair. And it is about to become less so...Disability cannot be an afterthought in this next stimulus package." #AUCDPolicyTalk hears from Acting Executive Director of AUCD, John Tschida, about how Congress needs to act now to protect and support people with disabilities during this unprecedented and scary time. #WhatWeNeed https://bit.ly/2QA7Wcm

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:

Appropriations with AUCD's Policy Director Rylin Rodgers

Appropriations seems complicated, but it's something very important that everyone can advocate for! You can educate Congress about what resources and programs you benefit from.


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For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms