Disability Policy News

May 11, 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)
                 May 11, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 19

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

Paycheck Protection Program and Heath Care Enhancement Act

Became law on April 24, 2020

  • $321 billion to refill the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • $60 billion in economic disaster loans for small businesses
  • $75 billion to help hospitals treat COVID-19 patients and address drops in revenue
  • $25 billion for states to increase testing capabilities

Package 4

Congress has begun work 

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

What happened last week: 

  • Congress continues to work on a larger Package 4 to meet the growing needs of Americans.
  • The House launched a new website sharing information with the public about the work being performed by House Committees to address the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Senate came back into session on Monday, May  4th.
  • The House could return as soon as this week, but that will likely depend on when Democratic leadership introduces their next coronavirus relief bill.
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 greater risk if infected with the 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:

  • Read AUCD's resources to continue your work during the pandemic

office of the white house

Administrative 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. 


Congressional Action

Congressional leaders are using various strategies to respond to the needs of people during COVID-19. This includes introducing new legislation and issuing letters to federal agencies and Congressional leadership requesting clarification, guidance, and public statements for the record that the needs of people with disabilities are included in Package 4. These include:


  •  Senators Durbin, Duckworth, Hassan, and 22 other U.S. Senators sent a letter to Senate leadership about making sure that students with disabilities will receive supports during the Covid-19 pandemic. The letter focuses on ensuring protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and making sure funding goes towards needed services.
  • Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) introduced All Dependent Children Count Act (HR 6420) which seeks to increase the age limit for dependent children eligible for recovery rebates. Also, Senator Tina Smith introduced a bill (S 3652) to allow 2020 recovery rebates to qualifying children over the age of 16 and other dependents.

three people, male and female standing, male in wheelchair Medicaid

States can use Section 1915(c) waiver Appendix K to amend HCBS waivers to respond to the emergency. Many state Medicaid programs are proposing or implementing new policies to respond to COVID-19 and maintain access to health care during the public health crisis. States are strengthening their home- and community-based services (HCBS) programs, improving access to coverage and care, helping people access care while social distancing, and ensuring financial stability for providers so they can keep their doors open and serve their communities.

Plain Language:

  • States have made changes to their Medicaid programs in response to COVID-19.

What this means to you:

  • HCBS is important during the public health crisis because it helps seniors and people with disabilities remain in their homes, where they are generally safer from the virus than in nursing homes.

Action Steps:

Department of Education logo


The Department of Education published its final Title IX rule addressing sexual harassment in schools. It is scheduled to take effect on August 14, 2020. The new Title IX rule seeks to weaken Title IX's protections against sexual harassment in schools.

Plain Language:

  • The government has made a final rule about how schools deal with sexual harassment.

 What this means to you:

  • The rule will require schools to use procedures that treat victims unfairly, hold sexual harassment complaints to a higher and more burdensome standard than complaints about other types of student or staff misconduct, and make it harder for students who have experienced sexual harassment to come forward.

Action Steps:

Voting ballot boxVoting

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is collecting public comment on the proposed Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 (VVSG 2.0). The EAC made the decision to undertake the drafting of VVSG 2.0 as a result of feedback received over several years from a variety of stakeholders, including state and local election officials, voting system manufacturers, and usability, accessibility and security interest groups.

Plain Language:

  • The government wants to hear from you about voting guidelines.

What this means to you:

  • There is concern that VVSG 2.0 may decrease accessibility when compared to the current VVSG 1.1 standards. While security guidelines in 2.0 are important, it could have a negative effect on accessible voting for people with disabilities.

Action Steps:

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

As many are working from home, this week on #AUCDPolicyTalk hear from AUCD's Senior Advocacy Specialist, @LizWeintraub, on working from home as a person with a disability. #WhatWeNeed #WeAreEssential Read the full blog post: https://aucdpolicytalk.org/2020/05/08/my-wfh-life/

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

Social Distancing with Liz 

Being social and connecting with each other is so important! Liz talks about what #SocialDistancing is and how to manage it during #COVID19. #Policy4All

  • For our other COVID-19 videos, check out:


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