Disability Policy News

February 1, 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)
                 February 1, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 4

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.


The White House and lawmakers continue to negotiate aspects of President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The Plan, currently written as a framework rather than legislation, includes provisions to address the COVID-19 pandemic as both a health and an economic crisis. Of note to the disability community, the plan would include adult dependents in the proposed $1,400 direct stimulus payments. However, it does not name funding for Home- and Community-Based Services, education funding specifically tied to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), nor the Developmental Disabilities Act network. On January 28, 2021, the COVID HCBS Relief Act (H.R.525) was introduced in the House, which provides an emergency increase in federal funding for state Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS), funding that disability advocates continue to raise as an issue.

On Sunday, January 31, 10 Republican Senators announced plans to propose an alternative $600 billion dollar COVID relief package. Despite a series of bipartisan meetings, it is possible that Democrats will try to pass the President's plan on their own. To do so, Congressional Democrats will need to invoke a complicated and rare Senate procedure called Budget Reconciliation.

Plain language:

  • President Biden and lawmakers are working on another COVID-19 relief package. We don't yet know details of what is in it.
What it means to you:

  • Now is the time to contact your Members of Congress and tell them what you need, for example your Home- and Community-Based Services, healthcare, or education.
Action steps:

black and white image of capitol dome117th Congress

Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have been busy introducing new legislation and reintroducing legislation from the previous Congress that did not pass. Many of these bills would directly impact the disability community if passed. Below are some of the pieces of legislation being introduced connected to AUCD's legislative priorities that will be important to track in the 117th Congress:

COVID-19 Relief
COVID HCBS Relief Act (H.R.525): a bill to provide an emergency increase in federal funding for state Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS).
Health Care Improvement Act: a bill to increase access to affordable health care coverage and reduce healthcare costs.
Keep our PACT Act (S.72): a bill to require full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
Workforce and Employment
Raise the Wage Act (S.53, H.R.603): a bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 and end subminimum wage certificates for workers with disabilities
Social Justice
For the People Act of 2021 (H.R.1, S.1): a bill to overhaul the U.S. Federal election system, including provisions for expanding voting rights, changes to campaign finance laws, limit partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders.
Plain language:

  • Members of Congress are coming up with many ideas for laws. 
What it means to you:

  • Many of the bills being introduced by Members of Congress would impact the lives of people with disabilities if voted into law. It is important to see which bills you support or don't support and share your expertise and voice with your Member of Congress. 
Action steps:

  • You can track all legislation introduced in Congress on congress.gov.
  • Share your expertise and thoughts with your Members of 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.
    • You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
  • Consider sharing AUCD's Disability Policy Priorities for 2021 with your Members of Congress.

blue background with letters C-D-C in white. the words Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in blue underneathCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

The new Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Rochelle Walensky, has extended the temporary stop in residential evictions through March 31, 2021. The CDC had previously used its authority under the Public Health Service Act to halt evictions through January 31, 2021. The moratorium is an attempt to mitigate the spread of coronavirus by limiting the number of evicted renters moving into shared housing or other congregate settings.

Plain language:

  • The federal government told landlords that they cannot kick out people who can't pay rent until March 31, 2021. 
Action steps:

Seal of the President of the United States, eagle with blue backgroundExecutive Order on Healthcare

President Biden signed an Executive Order requesting that the incoming Secretary of Health and Human Services consider establishing a second Enrollment Period for Americans to obtain health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. In the Order, President Biden specifically cites that many people have lost their jobs and health insurance in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order also directs the Agency heads of Health and Human Services, Labor, the Treasury, and all other related Agency heads to review their agencies' policies regarding the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

Plain language:

  • The government is planning to open enrollment for health insurance through the Federal Marketplace again.
What it means to you:

  • You may have another opportunity to sign up for health insurance through the government if you do not have health insurance or want to see other options.
Action steps:

capitalized letters M-A-C-P-A-C next to blue bars in a circleThe Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission

The AUCD Policy Team, in partnership with Health Management Associates, produced a plain language version of a federal report for The Medicaid and Chip Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) titled, ‘Plain Language: Medicaid Services for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities - Evolution of Addressing Service Needs and Preferences.' Both the original report and the plain language version include valuable information on the state of Medicaid services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, as well as recommendations for improvement. The report was presented to MACPAC at their January 2021 Public Meeting and featured AUCD's Senior Advocacy Specialist Liz Weintraub as a panelist.

Plain language:

  • There is a new plain language report on Medicaid services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. AUCD helped to write it.
What it means to you:

  • It is important to understand how Medicaid is working for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities so that we can know how to make it better.
Action steps:

  • Read the MACPAC report, ‘Medicaid Services for People with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities - Evolution of Addressing Service Needs and Preferences'.

black and white image of capitol dome

The second impeachment trial for former President Trump officially began last Monday after House Impeachment Managers delivered the single charge to the Senate. The House of Representatives charged former President Trump with inciting violence against the federal government following the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. On Tuesday, the Senators were officially sworn in as jurors in the trial. Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate have come to an agreement to defer the start of the trial to February 8th, allowing time for both sides to prepare any witnesses, confirm more of President Biden's nominees for federal agencies, and work on President Biden's plan for COVID-19 relief. Senate rules require 67 votes to convict. If that happens, a second vote would likely follow barring Trump from holding public office again in the future.

Plain language:

  • The second impeachment trial for President Trump will begin in the Senate on February 8th.
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

"Our goal is for the students to take what they learned in our course to advocate or be the bridge for better inclusion of Native Americans and tribal communities in disability services, programs, and research."

Now on AUCD Policy Talk, Helen Russette and Salena Beaumont Hall, Diversity Fellows at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at University of Montana, share how they developed a university course on the intersection of American Indians, disability, and rurality.

Action steps:

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

This week on vintage #TWL, Liz speaks to autistic leader Nicole LeBlanc about the importance of person-centered planning. Person-centered planning is when a person with a disability is in control of their choices with the support and help that they choose.