Disability Policy News

March 30, 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 30, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 13

CDC COVID-19 image


Congress and the administration are responding to 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. The latest congressional COVID-19 response addressed many of those needs, but more work is needed!

Congressional Efforts:



What it means for People with Disabilities

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

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 when the crisis began. 

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.

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



Became law on March 27, 2020

  • Allows state Medicaid programs to pay for direct support professionals to assist disabled individuals in the hospital
  • $13.5 billion available for formula grants to States, which will then distribute 90 percent of funds to local educational agencies to meet needs of all students, including students with disabilities
  • $85 million for Centers for Independent Living
  • $50 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers
  • Extension of Money Follows the Person and Spousal Impoverishment through November 30, 2020
  • Waives nutrition requirements for Older Americans Act (OAA) meal programs during the public health emergency related to COVID-19 to ensure seniors can get meals in case certain food options are not available

Package 4 and beyond

Almost certainly needed

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

Staff need to continue to hear from YOU! Members of Congress - EVERYONE in the House and Senate - need to hear from you immediately. This important step shows your voice matters!

Future legislation must:

  • Build on the investments made to support systems for older Americans. We must fund the systems that support people with disabilities, including UCEDDS and LENDS. Disabled Americans are considered at risk and our existing systems have shifted to meet new and growing needs and must be supported in this effort.
  • Protect the rights of the disabled in the face of rationing of care
  • Increase funding for CDC State and Disability Health Programs
  • Provide an additional $20 billion to Home and Community Based Services to meet the emergency need
  • Increase SNAP and Meals on Wheels funding and expand eligibility to include people with disabilities

Plain Language:

  • Congress is working on bills to support people during COVID-19. They need to hear from you about 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.

map with pinpointState and Local Advocacy

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act included the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, which state, tribal, and local governments will use this year to meet costs connected to the virus. Each state will receive at least $1.25 billion. The voices of people with disabilities, families and systems are needed at the state and local level to ensure that funds are used to support critical needs.

Plain Language:

  • States and large cities are getting money from the federal government to help with the cost of COVID-19.

What this means to you:

  • Systems that serve people with disabilities, including front-line workers and family caregivers who support individuals, require additional resources and supports.  Advocacy is needed to make sure that some of the money coming to states is used to meet these needs.

Action steps:

  • Ask them how they will use the Coronavirus Relief Fund to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

medicaid.govCOVID-19 Medicaid Implementation

Last week, the Trump Administration took steps to implement provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127) that provide states with enhanced federal Medicaid funding during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) national emergency, including the release of implementation guidance. All Medicaid programs are jointly funded between states and the federal government, with the federal government paying states for a specified percentage of program expenditures, commonly referred to as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). Section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides for a possible 6.2 percent increase in the FMAP. This increase will be retroactive to January 1, 2020, and will continue through the end of the quarter in which the public health emergency for COVID-19 ends. The guidance answers critical questions for states, including:

  • The timeframe the increased funding will be available
  • Which costs are eligible for the enhanced funding
  • The conditions under which states can claim the funds
  • And the procedures and documentation requirements for accessing the enhanced funding

Plain Language:

  • The government is starting to give more Medicaid money to states to respond to COVID-19.

What this means to you:

  • Each state and territory, including the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands, are eligible for the increased FMAP as long as they adhere to the conditions outlined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

Action steps:

  • To keep up with the important work the White House Coronavirus Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19, click here: www.coronavirus.gov.
  • For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, guidance, and other information in response to the COVID-19 virus, please visit the Current Emergencies Website. 

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:

  • Waiving a policy that required students to come in person to pick up free school meals for the rest of the COVID-19 school closures. New guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture allows school districts to distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children. The waiver takes effect immediately and applies automatically to all states that elect to use it.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the requirement for Americans to obtain a Real ID for travel will be delayed one year.

hospitalRationing of Care

Members of the disability community, including AUCD network member Ivanova Smith, have filed disability discrimination complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights. As COVID-19 cases increase, health care professionals are developing protocols for responding to COVID-19, including treatment rationing that will determine who will and will not have access to life-saving treatment. These complaints concern rationing plans being put in place in various states which discriminate against people with disabilities in violation of federal disability rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

On Saturday, March 27th, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a Bulletin: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019, affirming that "persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person's relative "worth" based on the presence or absence of disabilities."

Plain Language:

  • People are complaining to the government for the way hospitals may treat people with disabilities during COVID-19. The federal government released new information to help protect people with disabilities during the emergency. 

What this means to you:

  • Guidance on discrimination of those with disabilities in standards of care during the current COVID-19 outbreak is needed. 

Action steps:

map of US made up of blue and green bodies. Text: Census 2020Census 2020

The Census Bureau said it would delay all census operations by several weeks as the government works to contain the spread of the virus. In the meantime, the agency has tried to shift its communications to encourage more self-response online, over the phone, or through paper forms.

Plain Language:

  • Complete the Census online, by phone, or paper form.

What this means to you:

  • Some UCEDDs are local partners to the Census. Local partners are to be working on recrafting a campaign in their local communities that is based on more social media and other tools that don't require in-person outreach.

Action Steps:

  • Complete the census virtually! Use our friends from the Arc's resources.

DPS cancelled

Disability Policy Seminar

AUCD was grateful for your participation in our three virtual Disability Policy Seminar events last week. Let us know how your hill visits went.  The information in this week's Disability Policy News can provide content for thank you and follow-up emails.

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

We continue our series for #DDAwarenessMonth with long-time self-advocate Tia Nelis. Read her thoughts on the term advocate and self-advocate on this week's #AUCDPolicyTalk

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!


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

Tuesdays With Liz:

Autistic Engagement with AASET Leaders Stephen Shore and Teal Benevides

What does autistic representation mean to you? Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together (AASET) leaders Stephen Shore and Teal Benevides talk with Liz about the engagement of autistic people. #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs #AutismAcceptanceMonth


Subscribe to Updates  Browse Archived Issues


For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

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