Disability Policy News

July 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)
                 July 6, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 27


    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.

What happened last week: 

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 of House of Represenatives

 Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act 

The House of Representatives passed the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020 (H.R.7301) on May 29, 2020, largely along party lines, to provide financial relief for renters and homeowners as the COVID-19 crisis continues to cause economic fallout. The Act allocates $100 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for emergency rental assistance over the next three years and creates a $75 billion dollar mortgage relief fund for homeowners, as well as extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums outlined in the CARES Act through March 2021. The housing needs of people with disabilities were specifically addressed by the authorization of $200 million in additional funding for section 811 housing. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is not expected to pass.

Plain Language:

Many people are in danger of losing their homes because they have lost their jobs during COVID-19 and cannot pay their rent. Congress is working on a bill to help people, including people with disabilities, stay in their homes.

Action Steps:


Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, largely along party lines, 234-179. The goal of the legislation is to improve affordability of health care under the Affordable Care Act, including:

  • Expand tax credits to lower premiums on plans bought through the ACA
  • Press states that have not yet done so to expand Medicaid
  • Require that Medicaid and CHIP cover new moms for 1 year postpartum
  • Crack down on junk plans

AUCD and the disability community are supporters of many of these important efforts. We are aware that the bill also includes policies intended to offset its costs that are based on discriminatory quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and similar metrics based on averages. Now that this bill is moving on to the Senate, the disability community needs to educate Senators on the need for advocacy to remove provisions that would weaken the Affordable Care Act's existing protections for people with disabilities.

Plain Language:

  •  Congress is working on a bill to improve affordability of health care under the Affordable Care Act. They need to hear from you about why people with disabilities are opposed to referencing quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) used in other countries.

What this means to you:

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act may have provisions that you support and that benefit people with disabilities. As it is currently written there is reason to be concerned that it could increase discrimination.  

Action steps:

Share your thoughts with your Senators

  • 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

black fist symbol of civil rights

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. While efforts to address police reform and racism at the federal level have stalled, change is happening in local and state governments and within businesses and communities. 

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:





Justice in Policing Act of 2020

Passed the House June 25, 2020

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

JUSTICE Act (S 3985)

Introduced on June 17, 2020


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.

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 Ruling in Education

The Supreme Court issued a decision on 6/30/2020 in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue declaring that it is unconstitutional for the state of Montana to exclude religious private schools from student tuition assistance programs. The 5-4 ruling, divided along ideological lines in favor of the conservative Justices, strikes down a clause in the Montana state constitution that banned public funds from being used for religious schools. Almost 40 states have similar such clauses, often known as "Blaine Amendments," as a means of separating church and state, but which are now most likely considered unconstitutional. The ruling is considered a win for the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who have argued that Blaine Amendments limit school choice options and discriminate against families that want a religious education for their children. However, supporters of public education argue that the ruling will lead to more money flowing out of already underfunded public schools, harming the 90% of America's students that attend public schools. The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) filed an amicus brief in Espinoza v. Montana alleging that overturning the ban on public funding for religious schools would disproportionately harm students with disabilities because it further guts public school funding while private schools have no legal obligation to accept and support students with disabilities.

Plain Language:

The Supreme Court decided that states cannot stop families from using money from the government to send their children to private religious schools. Some people think this is a good change because it means parents will have more school choices for their kids. Other people do not think this is a good change because it will take more money from the students at public schools. 

What this means to you:

This decision could be harmful to many students with disabilities because private schools do not need to accept students with disabilities and public schools will have less money to spend on their students.

Action steps:

  • Read more about the case, including the amicus brief filed by the NDRN, which the AUCD and other disabilities rights organizations also signed. (Amicus briefs are legal documents filed in court cases by interested members of the community. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider which can have significant impact on judicial decision-making.)
  • You can also read the NDRN's response to the decision, released 7/1/2020.

hand putting ballot in box


As primaries continue and we prepare for November 3rd, AUCD shares these voting resources:

AUCD resources to share and support your efforts:

Tuesdays with Liz on Voting

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk

This week on #AUCDPolicyTalk we finish our #CommunityLiving series with Jamie Ray Leonetti, Policy Director from the Institute on Disability as she shares the continued fight for Home and Community based services. #WhatWeNeed #ADA30


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

For July 2020, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)! Liz spoke with NPR correspondent Joe Shapiro to get his thoughts on where the disability community currently stands with the ADA.


  • To read more about the ADA, visit ttps://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=601 
  • Here's an article where Joe reports on COVID-19 and people with disabilities: https://www.npr.org/transcripts/85753...
  • Read Joe's book on the disability movement and civil rights, "No Pity": https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/bo...