Disability Policy News

December 21, 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)
                 December 21, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 49

*Note: There will be no Disability Policy News on 12/28/2020 or 1/4/2021*
We looking forward to connecting in the new year.

black and white image of capitol domeEnd of Year Legislative Package

On Sunday night Congress approved a one-day extension of government funding to allow the final bill text of the coronavirus relief and omnibus package to be written. The package to be considered on Monday includes omnibus appropriations funding the government through September 30, 2021, a roughly $900 billion COVID relief package, multiple legislative extenders, and legislation that will end surprise billing for emergency and scheduled care.

Final language is not yet public, but we are hearing that COVID relief includes:

  • $600 direct ("stimulus") payments provided to individuals and children. Phases out starting at $75,000 annual income for individuals.
  • $300/week additional unemployment aid for 11 weeks - could last through at least March 14. Similarly, the program providing unemployment benefits for gig/contract/self-employed workers will be continued for 11 weeks.
  • An extension of CDC eviction moratorium through the end of January, and $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.

Does NOT include:

  • Funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) to support people with disabilities and older adults at home and to keep them out of nursing homes and other institutions.
  • Provision to ensure adult dependents qualify for stimulus payments.

Plain language:

  • Congress is working to pass a bill that funds government programs, provides some help related to the COVID emergency and allows important programs like Money Follows the Person to continue.
What it means to you:

  • Agreements in principle are likely to prevent a government shut down and to ensure some critical COVID relief. Education about the continued needs for people with disabilities in the COVID emergency will be needed in the new Congress and beyond.

Action steps:

  • Learn more about the appropriations process from AUCD.
  • Learn more about the potential COVID-19 relief bill:
    • An outline of the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act, which is informing the current COVID-19 relief bill.

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue background

Presidential Transition

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continue to announce White House Senior Staff and their nominees for high-level political appointments. This past week, the incoming administration announced high level nominees for climate appointments, include Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior, Former Governor Jennifer Granholm for Secretary of Energy, and Michael Regan for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. President-Elect also announced that former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg will be nominated as Secretary of Transportation.

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris continue to consider candidates for Education Secretary. AUCD and several dozen other national, state, and local disability rights groups have sent a letter to the Biden transition team raising the need to ensure that those considered for leadership at the department of education support students with disabilities and their families.

Plain language:

  • President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and their staffs are working to be ready to start work on January 20, 2020. Part of getting ready is choosing people to hire for jobs across the government. AUCD and other disability rights groups are sharing issues to think about to making sure that the people hired respect people with disabilities.

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:

medical injection needle and calendar, black and white

COVID-19 Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the emergency use of a second COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna on Friday and national shipments of the vaccine begin today. The approval of the Moderna vaccine follows the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved the previous week. Vaccination of Phase 1a priority population groups is underway, although it is important to note that priority groups may differ in each state. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued guidelines as to who should be eligible for Phase 1 (a, b, and c) vaccination, it is states that designate allocation priorities.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has issued the following vaccine allocation guidance for Phase 1:

  • Phase 1a: frontline health workers, residents and staff of congregate care settings
  • Phase 1b: frontline essential workers, persons over 75 years-old
  • Phase 1c: remaining essential workers, persons over 65 years-old, persons with high-risk medical conditions

In the coming weeks federal, state, and local entities will continue to update guidance and plans related to distribution. The voices of advocacy will continue to be needed to educate and ensure the vaccine is equitably distributed and that everyone has the information they need to understand their vaccination decision.

Plain language:

  • There are now two vaccines that can stop you from getting sick from COVID-19. It will take many months for everyone to get vaccinated. You can help by learning about the vaccine and sharing good information.
    • Note: The COVID-19 vaccine is not the same as a COVID-19 test. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine from the CDC.
What this means to you:

  • Officials and the public will need information to make sure that the COVID-19 vaccine is given to people in way that is fair and includes all people.

Action Steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk
This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Tracy Waller, a lawyer with the MD Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, discusses the need to include people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in equitable allocation of COVID19 vaccine.
Action steps:

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub
Tuesdays with Liz

"Everything touches the lives of people with disabilities, just like any other person."

This week on vintage #TWL, Chairman of the National Council On Disability (NDC) Neil Romano discusses the role of the Council and its impact on people with disabilities. For more information on NDC, visit www.ndc.gov.