Disability Policy News

November 16, 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 16, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 46

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue backgroundPresidential Transition

Presidential transitions are traditionally the process where outgoing administration and career government officials try to convey years of intelligence, know-how, planning and work to the incoming administration, at the same time the incoming administration is in the process of identifying and hiring thousands of staffers. The current delay from the outgoing administration has changed the process.

Currently, President-Elect Biden’s team is moving forward, launching a COVID-19 Advisory Boardnaming Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff, and establishing agency review teams in an effort to hit the ground running on Day One. 

Plain language:

  • President Elect Biden and his staff are working to be ready to start work on January 20, 2020. 
What it means to you:
  • A transition creates change in federal policy that impacts the lives of people with disabilities and their families, following the transition and learning about who is working on issues you care about can help prepare us to share our expertise and voices.
Action steps:

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

The U.S. Supreme Court heard combined oral arguments for California v. Texas and Texas v. California, both of which consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The consolidated cases consider the ACA in two parts: first, whether the ACA's individual mandate, which requires everyone have a minimum level of health insurance, is constitutional; and second, if the individual mandate is decided to be unconstitutional, whether the entire ACA is therefore unconstitutional. The Supreme Court previously upheld the legality of the individual mandate in NFIB v. Sebelius in 2012, and Congress eliminated the financial penalty for not following the individual mandate in 2017. Justices brought up both of these points repeatedly during oral arguments and indicated general support for the constitutionality of the seminal healthcare law. A ruling on the cases are not expected until late Spring 2021, and the ACA will remain in effect throughout deliberations.

Plain language:

  • Last week the U.S. Supreme Court began work on two court cases on the Affordable Care Act. They will make a decision on the cases next year that will decide if the Affordable Care Act is legal and can stay a law, or if it is illegal and must change. 
What this means to you:

  • It is possible that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be repealed next year. Millions of people with disabilities and their families would lose health care access and protections if the ACA is taken away.
Action Steps:

  • Listen to the Supreme Court oral arguments for California v. Texas and Texas v. California.
  • Learn about the two cases on the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court will hear next week:
  • Learn more about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits the disability community:
  • We will be sharing ways to take action and get involved throughout this process. Continue to read Disability Policy News and check the AUCD website for updates on this case and our advocacy efforts to protect the ACA.

    three dollar bills, black and whiteAppropriations

    Congress appears to be on track to pass an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) before the current funding runs out on December 11th. The Senate Appropriations Committee has released 12 bills that would fund the federal government until the end of FY2021 on September 30th, 2021. The government is currently being funded through a short-term continuing resolutions (CR) act (H.R.8337), passed on October 1st that avoided a federal shutdown by extending the funding levels of FY2020. 

     Funding levels related to AUCD:


    FY2020 Funding

    AUCD FY2021 Ask

    Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R.8337)

    Senate-proposed funding, FY2021







    language says LEND but no LEND number 






















    Plain language:

  • Congress is working on bills to fund the government until September 30th, 2021. A funding bill needs to be passed by Congress and signed by President Trump by December 11th, or else the federal government will shut down.
  • A ‘shut down' is when the federal government has to close down because Congress has not passed a bill to pay for it.
What it means to you:

  • It is important that the federal government passes a funding bill and stay open so that people can continue to access government services. This money is spent on different programs that support education, healthcare, job training, housing, and more, including the AUCD network.

Action steps:

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.


Any hope for a COVID-19 relief package after the election has since dissipated as leaders of both political parties have signaled unwillingness to compromise. Following the election last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated an interest in renewing negotiations for a COVID-19 relief package, but has since indicated he is unwilling to spend more than $500 billion. On the Democratic side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been unwilling to consider less than a $2 trillion relief package. The White House has not engaged in relief negotiations since the election on November 3rd. It appears increasingly unlikely that any such measure will pass before the new Congress is sworn in on January 3rd.

Plain language: 

  • Congress might try to pass another COVID-19 relief package in December, but it is not likely.
What it means to you:

  • It is unlikely that Congress will pass a COVID-19 relief bill. They need to hear what is important 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:

    medical injection needle and calendar, black and whiteVaccines

    Currently, there are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, but officials continue to plan for distribution. On November 12, 2020, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the U.S. government’s partnerships with pharmacies to distribute and administer vaccines in anticipation that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized or approved and recommended for use in the United States. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced last week preliminary data showed its vaccine to be 90% effective.

    Plain language:

  • There is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, but people keep working on it.

    What it means to you:

  • Federal, state, and local governments are working on plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. You may be helpful in identifying issues unique to the disability community and working to plan to address all needs. 
Action steps:


    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:

  • 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 Clark (Massachusetts), and more!
    • Date and time: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 12:00 - 1:15 pm EST
    • 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 January 3rd, 2020.
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy Talk
 AUCD Policy Talk

"The exact number of refugees with disabilities is unknown, as is their individual needs and challenges. However, we do know that when people face war, violence, and persecution, they are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, such as in the case of this invisible group."

This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Mustafa Rfat, a graduate student and LEND trainee at The Center for Excellence in Disabilities at West Virginia University, shares his experience as a refugee with a disability and emphasizes the need for federal agencies to better support this vulnerable population.

Action steps:

    Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

    Tuesdays With Liz

    On this week's Vintage #TWL, Liz speaks to Ohio advocate Christine Brown about Medicaid Buy-Ins and how they affect people with disabilities. Be sure to check out AUCD's additional resources on Medicaid in preparation for virtual Hill visits!


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