Disability Policy News

November 2, 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)
                 November 2, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 44

Seal 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 U.S. Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on Monday. Justice Barrett was confirmed in a 52-48 Senate vote primarily along party lines, with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joining the 45 Democratic Senators and two Independent Senators voting ‘no'. Following the vote, Justice Barrett was immediately sworn in to the country's highest court by Justice Clarence Thomas in an evening event held at the White House. The conclusion of the confirmation process means that Justice Barrett will preside over election-related cases and will participate in the November 10th oral arguments for two cases related to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Plain language:

  • Amy Coney Barrett was voted onto the Supreme Court and officially joined it last week. She has already started working on court cases. 

  • What it means to you:

  • The Supreme Court will soon begin work on two cases on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and it is very possible that the ACA will be repealed. Millions of people with disabilities and their families would lose health care access and protections if the ACA is repealed. 
Action Steps:

  • Learn about the upcoming Supreme Court Case on the ACA, California v. Texas.
    • Read the Amicus Brief on the case from the disability community, including AUCD.
    • Learn more about how the Affordable Care Act benefits individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in this post by The Arc.
    • Read AUCD Policy Talk post, ‘It's time to save healthcare - again.' by Rylin Rodgers, AUCD Director of Public Policy.

    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 on a COVID-19 relief bill remained stalled last week between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Both chambers of Congress are now on recess until November 9th, although the House of Representatives remains ‘on-call' should a deal on a COVID-19 relief bill be reached. Lawmakers now look to the possibility of passing a relief bill during the ‘lame duck' congressional session between Election Day and the new Congress on January 3rd.

    Plain language:

Speaker Pelosi and the White House continue to talk about COVID-19 relief, but it is still unlikely that Congress will pass any additional COVID-19 relief.
What this means to you:

  • It is unlikely that Congress will pass a COVID-19 relief bill that includes funding to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. 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:

  • Read the 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.
    • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
  • Share AUCD's top priorities and your stories about the impact of COVID-19 on your life with your members of Congress.
    • When talking about the critical need for HCBS dollars you may wish to share the study, COVID-19 Mortality Risk in Down Syndrome: Results From a Cohort Study Of 8 Million Adults, that found that people with Down syndrome have 10 times the risk of dying from Covid-19 compared to those without Down syndrome. This data shows how important it is that people can be in their homes and communities and not in congregant settings where the risk of COVID infection is significantly higher.

  • United States Postal Service logo, blue and white envelope with title

    United States Postal Service

    A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to perform mail collection services to the extent necessary to increase on-time mail services, particularly as related to Election Mail. The ruling comes after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy came under intense scrutiny last month for the changes he had made to USPS operations in July that resulted in slower mail delivery across the country. The new order requires USPS personnel to resume mail collection trips to the "same or greater degree" as they were performed prior to the July changes. The judge also ordered that the USPS provide daily updates on the number of extra and late mail collection trips. 

Plain language:

  • Many people have noticed that the mail is taking longer in the past few months. A judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to make changes that will help mail move faster.
What it means to you:

  • If you get your medications by mail, they should arrive more quickly. If you feel worried about mail-in voting, the mail-in ballots should arrive to the election office more quickly.

    Action steps:

  • Learn more about the order:
  • Read the stories collected by NCIL and AAPD about how disruption in the mail service has impacted people with disabilities.
  • If your mail service continues to be disrupted, contact your local USPS and share your stories and concerns with your members of Congress.
    • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representatives.

    AUCD Conference logo - outline of two people standing and one person in wheelchair holding up blue ball, all rainbow#AUCD2020 Conference Policy Events

    We are excited to share that AUCD is offering several ways to engage with federal policy efforts as part of this year's virtual #AUCD2020 Conference:

  •  Post-Election Analysis and Discussion with AUCD: Help us kick off our pre-conference events by joining the AUCD Policy Team as we break down the tentative results of the November 3rd elections and consider what they could mean for the disability community. Register today! 
    • Date and time: Friday, November, 13, 2020, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
    • Location: Zoom Webinar
    • ASL interpretation and real-time captions will be provided.
  • Closing Hill Plenary: Join us for a pre-recorded Closing Plenary on the final day of the Conference to hear from an array of congressional leaders and legislative champions about their disability-related priorities and policies. This year’s speakers include Senator Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Representative Katherine Clark (Massachusetts), and more!
    • Date and time: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 12:00 – 1:15 pm
    • Location: Virtual
    • ASL interpretation and captions will be provided.
  • #AUCD2020 Virtual Hill Visits: We are pleased to share the #AUCD2020 Virtual Hill Visit Toolkit, which includes all the information you need to plan and conduct virtual Hill meetings with your representatives in Congress. 
    • Note: Due to the virtual format, we will not have a single Hill Day, but rather recommend that you schedule a meeting with your representatives between November 4th, 2020, and December 31st, 2020. 
  • Action steps:

  • Register for the free and open to all Post-Election Analysis and Discussion with AUCD.
  • Learn more about the virtual #AUCD2020 Conference on December 7th-9th.
  • Use the #AUCD2020 Virtual Hill Visit Toolkit to learn how to schedule visits with lawmakers and begin scheduling.

    Action steps:

  • If you are choosing to vote absentee by mail or drop box, now is the time to fill out and return your ballot to make sure it is counted!
    • Use our Absentee Voting Information by State chart to see ballot deadlines for your state, when absentee votes will be counted in your state, how to track your ballot, and link to your state election site.
  • Create a voting plan that meets your needs, reach out for help if you run into a barrier or need more information.
  • Reach out to friends and family to make sure they have a voting plan and the information they need to overcome any barriers.
  • Have questions about your ballot or how to vote? Call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
    •  English: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) 
    • Spanish/English: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) 
    •  Asian Languages/English: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) 
    • Arabic/English: 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287)
    •  ASL Voter Hotline: 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683)
  • Share why you vote with AUCD.

    logo of AUCD Policy Talk Policy Talk

    "For me, I vote for legislators and support candidates that will push for the same passions that I also have. So, I strongly encourage for all of you to read through all the statements of the candidates that you may support or that have been supported by other organizations that align with and speak to you the most, before you vote for them."


    This week on Policy Talk, self-advocate Helen Nash shares her advice for deciding who to vote for this Election Day.

    Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

    Tuesdays With Liz

    On this week's vintage #TWL, we celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month by revisiting the story and advocacy work of parents Warren and Aneasha Moore and their daughter Arren, who was born with Down syndrome.


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