Disability Policy News

June 22, 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 22, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 25

Civil and Human Rights

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:

  • Follow Proposed Bills and Policy:




Justice in Policing Act of 2020

Marked up by the House (HR 7120)  is expected to vote Thursday

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

Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities

Signed on June 16, 2020

Uses federal grant money to encourage local departments to take action around a set of national "best practices."

JUSTICE Act (S 3985)

Introduced on June 17, 2020


Senate votes next week

Discourages, but does not ban, tactics such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants, requires local law enforcement agencies to report all officer-involved deaths to the FBI  and encourages broader use of body-worn cameras for officers.

  • 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____________."

  • Example:

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."


This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.COVID-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. Senate action may come in July or later. Hearings were held in the House and Senate related to COVID, including:

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:

black symbol of building to look like hospital


Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

On June 17th the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, Telehealth: Lessons from the COVID-19.  During the hearing committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander called on Medicare to permanently lift restrictions that typically limit coverage of telehealth to rural areas. He said he also supported expanding the number and range of services Medicare pays for even after the emergency period ends.

Words to know:

  • Telehealth: a broad range of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve the healthcare delivery system as a whole, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.
  • Telemedicine: patients and healthcare providers communicate via video, phone, or email for diagnosis, treatment, and general care

Plain Language:

  • Congress is talking about making permanent telehealth changes.

What this means to you:

  • As health care system change decision are made that will impact the accessibility of telehealth to all people. Now is that right time to talk to policy makers about how to meets the needs of people with disabilities in telehealth.

Action Steps:

  • View the recording of the  hearing
  • Submit questions that you want your Members of Congress on the Committee to consider. 

Equal Access to Care Act

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) officially introduced the Equal Access to Care Act this week, which would allow licensed health care providers to virtually treat patients, even in states where they're not licensed, for 180 days after the emergency period is over.

Plain Language:

  • Congress is talking about making it possible for doctors to treat patients in states where the doctor does not have a medical license, using telehealth.

What this means to you:

  • It may be possible to get care from a doctor in another state without traveling to that state. 

Action Steps:

  • Share you thought on telehealth with your members of Congress.
  • Email or 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  

hospitalHospital Visitation 

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 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 ServicesSeal of Supreame Court  a traditional seal, which is similar to the Great Seal of the United States, but which has a single star beneath the eagle's claws— symbolizing the Constitution's creation of

Supreme Court

The Supreme Courtannounced two civil and human rights rulings this week:

  • Stopped the administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, at least for now
  • Extended federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) to protect gay, lesbian or transgender employees from being disciplined or fired based on their sexual orientation

 Plain Language:

  • The court ruled that young people covered by DACA can continue to live and work in America.  The court also ruled that civil rights law means you can not be fired because of your sexual orientation.

What this means to you:

  • If you had DACA protection or identify as LGBTQ, the court supported your rights. All communities and workplaces will continue to benefit from the work and lives of Dreamers and LGBTQ Americans.

Action steps:

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

This week on #AUCDPolicyTalk we continue our series on #CommunityLiving with Kiley Mclean from the  Waisman Center). #WhatWeNeed #AUCDPolicyTalk.

Action Steps:


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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

Kids as young as two years old are able to understand about #COVID19 and physical distancing. Dr. Ruby Natale of the Mailman Center for Child Development, a UCEDD at the University of Miami, talks to Liz about a video series the Center has developed to help kids learn about social distancing and masks. 

Check out the videos and share with a young friend you know!

A Social Distancing Story: https://youtu.be/eeFmBXZ5IB0  

Many Masks: https://youtu.be/a6Yok0XxArQ 


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