Disability Policy News

June 15, 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)
                 June 15, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 24

Civil and Human Rights

The death of George Floyd, 46, after a police officer knelt on his neck during his arrest in Minneapolis has led to protests and demonstrations around the country. The disability community's connections to and intersection with all parts of the civil and human rights community are essential to who we are and lead us to stand together and speak out against injustice and inequality in all its forms. 

Plain Language: 

  • Racism hurts our country. People are protesting and speaking out for change. 

What this means to you: 

  • We all have a role in addressing racism and making needed changes. The injustice and inequality experienced by black Americans is a human rights, civil rights, and disability rights issue. The disability community will work for change.

Action steps:

  • Bills and Policy:




Plain language 

H.R. 4359 - Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone Act of 2019 

Introduced to House September 2019 

Prohibits lethal force unless necessary and only after required use of reasonable alternatives have been exhausted and encourages states to adopt similar laws or policies.

Police must try to calm everyone involved down and safely control them without using violence before using any weapons

Justice in Policing Act of 2020

House and Senate, June 2020

Bans chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among a range of steps


Senator Tim Scott, (SC) will lead Republican efforts to propose legislation to address racism in the criminal justice system.

  • Contact your Congressional delegation by email or call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and advocate for justice. 
  • Sample Script:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I am calling because _______ (personal impact of police brutality)______.  I am from _______(university program name/city and state).  I have experience with ___________.  I care about____________."


Hi, my name is Jordan Kerr and I am a Public Health Specialist and resident of PG County. The recent recorded murder of George Floyd has not only caused tremendous concern but shed light on the systemic issue of police brutality in America. Myself and others in my field are concerned about the history of racial profiling, excessive force, and abuse of power that has been present in a number of fatal interactions with law enforcement. Studies have shown that Black residents are more likely to be stopped by police than white or Hispanic residents and police are twice as likely to threaten or use force against black residents than white or Hispanic residents. These instances are more frequently being recorded, leading to a norm of distrust between police and the community they serve and a fear of law enforcement. It is because of this that I would like to talk with you about legislation that prohibits lethal force unless necessary and only after required use of reasonable alternatives have been exhausted. The state of unrest in America will only continue until changes are made. It is my hope that you would support policies that will lead to better practices and allow our law enforcement to effectively serve our communities.


picture of COVID virusCOVID-19

Congress and the administration are responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways. It is important that the various relief and safety efforts meet the needs of people with disabilities. Your education to members of Congress about the impact on people with disabilities is important during this time.

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

Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act)


Passed the House on May 15, 2020


  • Home and Community Based Services investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access to home and community- based services.  
  • $10,000,000 for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs
  • $10 Billion additional for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities
  • Requirement for CDC Field Study about  to Health Inequities   
  • Specifically: "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes"

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020

Became law Friday June 4, 2020

·       Extends the time businesses have to spend the funds from an eight-week period to 24 weeks.



What happened last week: 

  •  Senate leadership has not yet expressed an interest in considering "Package 4" legislation. It may be the case that Senate action may come in July or later. Senators continue to work introducing legislation that indicates their priorities to be included in the next package.

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:

Seal on SCOTUS

Public Charge 

On June 10, 2020, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming the District Court's grant of a preliminary injunction against the new public charge rule. The Seventh Circuit found that the new public charge rule conflicts with federal law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The decision cited a brief filed by the disability community including AUCD. It found that the rule discriminates against people with disabilities. Because the US Supreme Court issued a decision in February staying the preliminary injunctions, the Seventh Circuit Court decision will not have impact until the Supreme Court takes further action.

Plain language:

  • The court system is still considering the Public Charge Rule. At this it can still happen. Public charge means someone who would depend on the government for support. The new rule would stop some of those people from getting benefits.

What this means to you:

  • Allowing the rule to start while it is challenged in court will lead to confusion and uncertainty in the immigration system.

Action Steps:

  • Read the US Supreme Court decision.
  • Read AUCD's plain language guide on Public Charge.
  • Find information to support immigrant on the Protecting Immigrant Families website.

hospitalHospital Visitation 

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it has reached a Resolution with the State of Connecticut after the state issued an executive order regarding non-visitation policies for short-term hospitals, outpatient clinics, and outpatient surgical facilities to ensure that people with disabilities are not denied reasonable access to needed support persons.

Around the country, hospital policies vary. Many ban all visitors; some states and some hospitals do make exceptions for some patients who can't speak. The Center for Public Representation, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, CommunicationFIRST, and The Arc have updated their Evaluation Framework, to reflect changes to state policies and revisions adopted.

Plain Language:

  • Connecticut has agreed that people with disabilities will not be denied reasonable access to needed support persons. 

What this means to you:

  • Individuals and advocates can use this case as an example when working with states, local communities and medical professionals in developing fair and non-discriminatory plans.

Action steps:


CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesCommitte on Health Education Labor and Pension

Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing, COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely, on June 10.

Action Steps:

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

Civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois spoke of the idea of a double consciousness. Gyasi Burks Abbott a writer, speaker, and autism self-advocate, unpacks that concept and how it applies to his life, his view of society, and the current systemic change our country has recently embarked on. Read Burks Abbott's impactful words on how we, as the people, have and hold the power to catapult our country into a new era emulating what we want, this week on #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

Appropriations is just a fancy way to describe how Congress spends money. As a citizen, you have a right to speak up for the things that matter to you! Watch this episode and use AUCD's appropriation tools to speak up for Fiscal Year 2021. https://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=257



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