Disability Policy News

August 24, 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)
                 August 24, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 34

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

 Negotiations for further COVID-19 relief legislation remained on pause last week as lawmakers instead shifted their focus to reported issues at the United States Postal Service (USPS). However, Senate Republicans released details of a new, ‘skinny’ version of the HEALS Act, entitled Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Business Act, signaling their legislative priorities when the Senate returns in September. The ‘skinny’ bill focuses on COVID-related liability waivers and $497 billion in funding for education, the post office, and combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note to the disability community, the proposed legislation does not include money for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and education services provided by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and retains the civil rights liability waivers included in the HEALS Act. Both the House and Senate remain on call for a vote if party leaders reach a consensus on further COVID-19 relief legislation during the August recess.

Plain Language:

  • Democratic and Republican lawmakers have stopped working together on a COVID-19 package for now, but might start again in September when the Senate and House return from their break.

What this means to you:

  • It is very possible that Congress will not spend any additional money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. It is also possible that Congress will pass a law that takes away some civil rights protections during COVID-19. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the Senate Republicans’ proposed ‘skinny’ bill: 
  • Read the full statement from AUCD urging action to protect civil rights.
  • Check out the updated Action Alert from AUCD for more details on how to contact your members of Congress and what to say when you do.
  • Email or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

  • list with check marksPresidential Campaign 2020

    Former Vice President Joe Biden was officially chosen as the Democratic nominee for President with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate last week at the Democratic National Convention. The four-day virtual event featured speeches by a litany of party leaders, advocates, and, notably, several former Republican lawmakers. 

    The Republican National Convention begins today, Monday, 8/24, and will continue through Thursday, 8/27. After several location changes due to COVID-19, the convention will be held through a combination of in-person events in Charlotte, North Carolina and virtual appearances. President Donald J. Trump plans to accept the nomination for his reelection live from the South Lawn of the White House. 

    Plain Language:

    • Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for President and Senator Kamala Harris is the Democratic nominee for Vice President. This week, President Trump and Vice President Pence will officially become the Republican nominees for President and Vice President.
    What this means to you:

    • It’s time to think about who you want to vote for in November and make a plan to vote.  

    Action steps:

    United States Postal Service logo, blue and white envelope with titleUnited States Postal Service

    The United States Postal Service (USPS) became the focus of both bipartisan frustration and partisan fighting last week in response to reports that the recently-installed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, was instituting changes to postal operations that have resulted in delayed mail delivery. Many Democratic lawmakers have expressed anxiety that the slowdown is part of a larger Republican initiative to invalidate mail-in voting in November, while many Republican lawmakers have focused on years-long budget shortfalls and structural inefficiency. The postmaster general DeJoy contends that the delays are a result of increased mail during the pandemic and changes to remedy existing budget and structural issues. On Saturday, the House returned from August recess to pass the Delivering for America Act (H.R.8015) with bipartisan support (257-150). The Act prohibits changes to Postal Service operations and provides $25 billion in funding. Senate Republicans have proposed $10 billion in funding for the USPS in their latest COVID-19 relief 'skinny' legislation.


    Plain Language:

    • Many people across the country have noticed that they are getting their mail slower. Lawmakers are trying to figure out why and fix it before the November elections.

    What it means to you:

    • If you plan on voting by mail, it is important that you mail in your ballot early. If you get your medications delivered, it is important that you order as early as possible and track your delivery to avoid missing medications.

    Action Steps:

    • Watch the House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing with postmaster general DeJoy today, 8/24, at 10:00 am. 
    • Watch the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Friday, 8/21, hearing with postmaster general DeJoy.
    • If you plan on voting by mail for the November elections, check your state’s rules for absentee voting and request your absentee ballot as soon as possible. You can do both with this easy tool from FiveThirtyEight.

    seal for Department of Health and Human Services, blue and whiteOffice of Civil Rights

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) resolved a complaint filed by the Center for Public Representation (CPR) alleging the illegal exclusion of people with disabilities from accessing life-saving treatments for COVID-19 in Utah. The resolution sets new national precedent by making several key changes to the state’s rationing policies:

    • An individual cannot be excluded or deprioritized from medical treatment based on amount of resources needed or disability diagnosis.
    • Medical personnel can no longer use "long-term survivability" as a consideration in treatment decisions. 
    • Hospitals must make reasonable modifications to tools used to prioritize access to medical treatment to avoid penalizing people with unrelated underlying conditions.
    • Reallocations of personal ventilators from patients who use ventilators for their daily life for COVID-19 patients are prohibited.


    Plain Language:

    • Hospitals cannot stop or take away treatment from people with disabilities just because they have disabilities.  

    What it means to you:

    • You still have rights if you get sick from COVID-19 or another illness. Contact your state Protection and Advocacy agency if you think you or someone else is being discriminated against because of a disability. 

    Action Steps:

    hand putting ballot in boxVoting 2020

    Election Day is Tuesday, November 3! If we’re going to make an impact in every election, we have to be registered to vote. Now is the time to confirm your registration status and to register if needed.   


    Action Steps:

    logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

    “Traditional public schools should be improved and fully funded. Tens of millions of students, including students with disabilities, rely on these schools.”


    This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Maria Edelman, former Hill staffer, writes about the importance of fully funding traditional public schools for all students, including those with disabilities.


    Action Steps:

    Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

    Tuesdays With Liz

    As we consider the impact of the disability vote on the election, check out a vintage Tuesdays with Liz from 2015.  Liz Weintraub interviews Taryn Williams, who was the Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement at the time of the interview. Taryn Williams served as the White House's liaison to the disability community. The interview covers a variety of topics including the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class initiative, access to post-secondary education, and the upcoming anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


    Subscribe to Updates  Browse Archived Issues


    For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

    For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's List of Policy Definitions