Disability Policy News

January 19, 2021


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)
                 January 19, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 2

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

Inauguration Day

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 20th, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States. The ceremony will take place at 12:00 pm on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. Attendance will be limited to Members of Congress due to strict safety protocols following the siege on the Capitol building two weeks ago. Many of the celebrations that traditionally take place following the event will be virtual, as had already been planned due to the pandemic. The Inaugural Committee will offer ASL interpreters, live captions and visual descriptions for events.

Plain language:

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become the President and the Vice President of the United States tomorrow at noon.
What it means to you:

  • The new President, Vice President, and Administration will begin working immediately on COVID-19 relief, COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and other issues. We will learn better how to use our voices to advocate for the disability community in the coming weeks.
Action steps:

black and white image of capitol dome
117th Congress

AUCD's Disability Policy Priorities for 2021 have been released. You can read details outlining our focus on issues within COVID-19 Relief, Healthcare, Education, Workforce and Employment, Social Justice and Appropriations.

Plain language:

  • AUCD has made a list of the policy issues it will work on this year. We hope you will work with us on these issues.
Action steps:

  • Read AUCD's Disability Policy Priorities for 2021.
  • Consider sharing them with your Members of Congress.
  • Share with us your work in each of these areas so that we can include your expert voices in our efforts.

black and white image of capitol dome

The House of Representatives impeached President Donald J. Trump for a second time on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, for inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States. The resolution specifically claims that President Trump propagated false claims about the Presidential elections to a crowd of his supporters on January 6th, after which members of the crowd violently breached the U.S. Capitol building while Members of Congress certified Electoral College votes. The article of impeachment was agreed in a 232-197 vote with 10 Republicans voting in support, making it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history. The Senate is expected to take up the impeachment trial when it returns to session on January 19th. Although President Trump will leave office the following day, a Senate vote to convict would lead to another vote to bar the President from running for office in the future.

Plain language:

  • President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time last week. They are accusing him of causing the riot at the U.S. Capitol building. Next, the Senate will decide if he is guilty.
Action steps:

  • You can read the resolution impeaching President Trump here.
  • Learn more about the impeachment process with AUCD's plain language explainer.

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 their nominees for political appointments and White House Personnel ahead of Inauguration Day. 

Many high-level nominees and appointees have begun meeting with stakeholders and releasing policy priorities. Of note, both Secretary of Education Designate Dr. Miguel Cardonas, and Health and Human Services Secretary Designate Xavier Becerras met with stakeholders in the disability advocacy community last week. Members of the AUCD Policy Team participated in both meetings.

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.

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

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal government would release all of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to match new federal guidance recommending all adults over 65 years old receive the vaccine. However, it later became clear that the federal government had already shipped out the majority of its reserve doses.

President-elect Biden previewed his priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in a speech last week. His proposed plan includes:

  • Broadening federal priority groups to include all adults over 65 years old; 
  • Establishing community vaccination centers, including mobile clinics to reach rural areas;
  • Expanding the pool of medical professionals allowed to administer the vaccine;
  • Renewed effort to partner with pharmacies for vaccination sites; and
  • Increased production of COVID-19 vaccines and related medical supplies.

Plain language:

  • Both the current Administration and the next Administration are trying to think of changes to get COVID-19 vaccines to more people more quickly.
What this means to you:

  • It is important to pay attention to changing COVID-19 vaccine guidelines so that you know when it is your turn to get a vaccine. Check your state COVID-19 vaccine plans to learn more.
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.COVID-19 Relief

President-elect Biden announced the outline of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislative proposal called the ‘American Rescue Plan.' Top lines of the proposal include:
  • $1,400 direct stimulus checks to most Americans, including for adult dependents;
  • $400 billion on COVID-19 testing and vaccine production and distribution;
  • $350 billion to state and local governments;
  • $130 billion to support reopening schools safely; and
  • Additional funding for child care assistance, federal nutrition programs, rental assistance, and tribal governments' pandemic response.
While we do not yet have legislative text, it appears that critical support of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) is not yet in this bill.

Plain language:

  • President-elect Biden wants to pass another COVID-19 relief package after he becomes President. 
What it means to you:

  • Past COVID-19 relief packages have not included funding and supports to meet the needs of the disability community. Now is the time to call or email your Members of Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. It is fair to say that including adult dependents in the stimulus proposal is important and that Home- and Community-Based Services need to be a part of the relief bill. Every call and email matters.
Action steps:

  • Listen to President-elect Biden's speech on his COVID-19 relief proposal
  • Contact the offices of your Members of Congress to start building relationships and to share your priorities for the 117th Congress. 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. AUCD has several tools to help you contact your Members of Congress:
  • Key talking points:
    • People with disabilities continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID
    • Always great to share how you have been impacted and/or how those you serve have been impacted
    • Please support the inclusion of adult dependents in stimulus
    • Please include needed support of HCBS in package
  • Check out AUCD's resources on forming relationships with your Members of Congress:

seal for Department of Health and Human Services, blue and whiteU.S. Department of Health and Human Services

As more and more health care providers face the inability to provide care for the numbers of COVID patients, the impact of crisis standards of care - guidelines that are followed when care is rationed - is being felt around the country. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week several revisions to standards. These revisions are an effort to reflect best practices for serving individuals with disabilities and the elderly.

In related work, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the issuance of a Request for Information (RFI) on disability discrimination in health care and child welfare contexts.

Plain language:

  • In many places in America hospitals cannot take care of everyone who is sick with COVID. It is important that discrimination is not part of the decisions about who gets care. Work is happening to stop discrimination and your voice is needed.
What it means to you:

  • When advocating for individuals and systems related to access to care for disabled people who have COIVD the guidance and technical assistance from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can be helpful.
  • Your experience with discrimination related to disability in health care is needed to support the continued work of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

"We should use President Eisenhower's success to help end the stigma against disabilities, both visible and invisible."

This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Miriam Edelman considers the legacy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a learning disability, and the potential of all individuals with disabilities.

Action steps:

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

On this week's vintage #TWL, we revisit Liz's interview on COVID-19 precautions with Dr. Georgina Peacock, the Director of Human Development and Disability at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.