Disability Policy News

April 6, 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)
                 April 6, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 14

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

Congress has begun to work on 

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

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:

  • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.

two people with AUCD logo as head sitting and talking with talking bubbles above them COVID-19 & Disability Stories

Congress is writing the next bill to respond to the needs of Americans in this crisis. In order for the needs of people with disabilities and their families to be addressed in the next bill, members need to hear about the real impacts. Often, a short personal story is helpful for them. Below are tips and tools to share your story.

Important to include:

  • How services and supports have been impacted by social distancing and how this impacts you.
  • Examples:
    • Not being able to go to school, work, community activities, day program
    • Not being able to have in-home or community support (Direct Support Professionals, aides, personal assistants, nurses)
    • Medical and other appointments being canceled

What to send in a story:

  • A picture of you at home; members of Congress need to SEE all of us
  • Story template
    • My name is __________________ and I am _______(a person with disability, family member, friend ). I am from _______(town and state). The COVID-19 emergency has ___________ (stopped services - explain which). I am worried about ____________ (explain what the impact is). I know you are working on the fourth relief package for COVID-19. I want to learn more about how you are going to help people with disabilities in this package. Thank you very much for your time.

How to send a story: 

  • AUCD is happy to compile stories and send them to your members of Congress and to Congressional leaders. If you want us to send your story simply email it to [email protected]
  • If you want to send your story directly to your members of Congress, the best way right now is via email. If you need help locating the right email addresses for your members please email [email protected]

Action Steps:

office of the white houseAdministrative 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. 

Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file a tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment 

hospitalRationing of Care

Over 90 organizations, including AUCD, have endorsed the guidance issued last week on Applying HHS's Guidance for States and Health Care Providers on Avoiding Disability-Based Discrimination in Treatment Rationing.

Plain Language:

  • If you are experiencing discrimination know that there is guidance and help to advocate.

What this means to you:

  • Stakeholders can use this in working with states and medical professionals in developing fair and non-discriminatory plans.

Action steps:

Department of Labor logoDepartment of Labor

The second COVID bill, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, included paid sick leave. However, it left out caregivers of people with disabilities. It did, though, give the US Department of Health & Human Services, Labor, and Treasury Secretaries the authority to specify any "substantially similar condition" under which employees are eligible for paid sick leave. The Department of Labor is accepting comments on this.

Plain Language:

  • You have a chance for your voice to be heard by the government about paid sick leave for caregivers of people with disabilities.

What this means to you:

  • Paid sick leave should be available to caregivers for people with disabilities and older adults who have lost their usual source of care just like it is for parents of children whose schools have closed.

Action Steps:

  • Submit your comment: https://ffcra.ideascale.com/ by Friday April 10, 2020. 
    • Click on "register" at the top of the page (or "log in" if you already have an account)
    • You will receive an email with a link
    • Click on "Submit your Idea" 
    • Select "Employees and Employee Groups"
    • Provide a short title for your comments, such as: Paid sick leave should be provided to caregivers of adults with disabilities and older adults
    • Insert comments
    • Questions or problems submitting comments? Email the Department of Labor at [email protected].

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

As we begin to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, we end our advocacy and self-advocacy blog series with #AUCDEmergingLeader Emily Starnes Bridges. Follow #AUCDPolicyTalk as we dig deeper into policy conversations! #AutismAcceptanceMonth https://bit.ly/2Xd1Xyx

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:

Kinetic Light and the Disability Arts Movement with Alice Sheppard

Dancing is a way of experiencing the world. Liz interviews 2020 #AUCD4All Gala honoree Alice Sheppard of Kinetic Light on the experience of dance and disability.

Learn more about Kinetic Light at https://kineticlight.org/.

Learn more about the AUCD Gala at https://aucd4all.org/.


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