Disability Policy News

March 15, 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)
                 March 15, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 10

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 Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L.117-2) on Thursday, March 11th. The $1.9 trillion legislation provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The package includes an extension of $300/week enhanced unemployment insurance until September 6th, avoiding a lapse in benefits before the previous March 14th cutoff. Relief of interest to the disability community includes:

  • Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS): a 10% FMAP increase for HCBS for one year.
  • Economic Impact Payments: Adult dependents who qualify for the $1,400 economic impact payments will receive this payment.
  • Funding tied to Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)
    • 1) $2,580,000,000 for grants to states under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act;
    • 2) $200,000,000 for preschool grants under Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act; 
    • 3) $250,000,000 for programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

Plain language:

  • President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act. It provides money for Home and Community Based Services and education for students with disabilities.
What it means to you:

  • The money included in the Act for people with disabilities is a result of all the advocacy efforts of the disability community over the past year. We thank you for your contributions to these efforts.
Action steps:

  • Learn more about the American Rescue Plan Act
  • Consider calling or emailing your Senators and Representatives to thank them for including funding for the disability community in the Act. 
    • 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.
    • Note: Even if your Representative or Senator(s) did not vote for this legislation, you can thank them for their hard work on COVID-19 relief and share with them why the funding for HCBS, IDEA, or the inclusion of adult dependents in stimulus checks was important to you.

medical injection needle and calendar, black and whiteCOVID-19 Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced targeted support to states and territories for providing at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to all teachers by the end of March. This follows a directive from Norris Cochran, the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to prioritize teachers, school staff, and childcare workers in state vaccine allocation plans. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is prioritizing vaccinations for all school staff and childcare workers for the month of March to meet this goal.

Plain language:

  • The CDC is telling states to give COVID-19 vaccines to all teachers, childcare workers, and other people who work in schools.
Action steps:


three dollar bills, black and whiteAppropriations

AUCD has announced our appropriations asks for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The President's FY 2022 Budget Requests are not yet public. Legislators in the House and the Senate are starting the work of budget and appropriations.
Now is the time for network directors, faculty, partners, trainees, families and allies to educate their members of Congress about why investments in programs that support people with disabilities are important.

AUCD's FY 22 Budget Request by Program:

Program

FY 20 Enacted

FY 21 Enacted

FY 22 AUCD's Request

FY 22 President's Budget Proposal

Autism and other DD

LENDs

$52.344 million

$35.245 million

$53.844 million

$36.245 million

$56.5 million

$38 million

To be announced

UCEDDs

$41.619 million

$42.119 million

$45 million

To be announced

NCBDDD (within CDC)

$160 million

$167 million

$180 million

To be announced

TPSIDs

$11.8 million

$13.8 million

$14 million

To be announced

PNS

$12.25 million

$12.25 million

$14 million

To be announced

NICHD (includes IDDRCs)

$1.59 billion

$1.59 billion

$1.708 billion

To be announced


Plain language:

  • AUCD is starting the process of asking for its yearly money from the federal government.
What it means to you:

  • Many AUCD programs get their funding from the federal appropriations process.
    • Appropriations is the act of setting aside money for a specific program from the federal budget.
Action steps:

CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released new guidance on visitation for nursing home residents. The new guidance generally allows indoor and outdoor visits for all residents, regardless of vaccination status. Facilities retain authority to limit visitation "due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission." CMS recommends that visitors and residents continue to follow the core principles of infection prevention, including physical distancing and visiting outdoors when possible.

Plain language:

  • In most cases people in nursing homes can now have visitors.
Action steps:


outline of a judge's gavelPublic Charge

After over a year of litigation under the Trump Administration, the Biden Administration has decided to drop the defense of the public charge rule, effectively ending the controversial policy. The 2019 public charge rule would have resulted in individuals seeking immigration to the U.S. being denied entry if they could need public assistance such as Medicaid, supplemental nutrition, or federal housing assistance. The public charge rule has been formally vacated and removed from the Code of Federal Regulations.

Plain language:

  • The public charge rule has been ended.
    • Public charge means someone moving to the United States who could depend on the government for support.
    • The public charge rule allowed the government to not let people from other countries who may be public charges become United States citizens.
What it means to you:

  • The public charge rule discriminated against people with disabilities who wanted to become United States citizens.
Action steps:


black and white image of capitol domeSpousal Impoverishment

Representatives Upton (R-MI) and Dingell (D-MI) introduced their bill to permanently authorize spousal impoverishment protections for people eligible for Medicaid HCBS (H.R. 1717). The protections, which allow the spouse of the person receiving Medicaid to retain a modest amount of income and assets, are currently only temporarily authorized for HCBS recipients through 2023.

Plain language:

  • This bill would make spousal impoverishment protections permanent.
What this means to you:

  • The protections allow the spouse of the person receiving Medicaid to retain a modest amount of income and assets. Without action, it will expire in three years.
Action step:


black and white image of capitol domeMoney Follows the Person

Rep. Dingell, [D-MI-12] introduced H.R.1880 to make permanent the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration. In December 2020, following a series of very short-term extensions, the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program was extended for three years. The importance and effectiveness of the effort have long demonstrated the value of a permanent program.

Plain language:

  • This bill would make the Money Follows the Person program permanent.
What this means to you:

  • The Money Follows the Person Program (MFP) helps people with disabilities and older adults move from institutions and nursing homes back to their homes and communities. Without action it will expire in three years.
Action step:



black and white image of capitol domeOrgan Transplantation

Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) and Katie Porter (CA-45) reintroduced the Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act (H.R.1235), which will prohibit using an individual's mental or physical disability as the sole basis of determining their eligibility for an organ transplant.

Plain language:

  • People should not face discrimination when they need an organ transplant.
What this means to you:

  • People with disabilities and their families are concerned that health care systems are still discriminating when it comes to organ transplantation.
Action step:


AUCD logo AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship

The application is now open for the AUCD 2021-2022 Disability Policy Fellowship. The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide significant experiences in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and AUCD administration. This is a paid full-time, one-year position beginning June 2021. The position offers a competitive salary and has the option to be located either in-person at the AUCD Silver Spring office or remote.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest explaining their reasons for wanting to become a Fellow, what they hope to get out of the fellowship, and how they plan to use the knowledge and skills gained. Please include a current resume and at least three letters of reference. A recent writing sample will be accepted but is not required. Please send all documents as attachments via e-mail only to: Rylin Rodgers, Director of Public Policy, at [email protected]

Plain language:

  • The application for the AUCD 2021-2022 Disability Policy Fellowship is now open. You need to apply by March 30th. 
Action steps:


outline of U.S. Capitol Building in blueDisability Policy Seminar

The Disability Policy Seminar and the pre-DPS events for the AUCD network will be entirely virtual this year.

  • The AUCD events will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now. 
  • Disability Policy Seminar will be April 19, 2021 to April 22, 2021. The cost to students and self-advocates is $135, and $225 for all others. Registration is now open!
The Disability Policy Seminar offers the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key federal issues that affect them most. After a wide range of sessions offering training and learning, participants will learn how best to engage with their Members of Congress and be given opportunities to do so. You are welcome to register for both the AUCD events and the Disability Policy Seminar or for either.

Plain language:

  • The Disability Policy Seminar will be a virtual event from April 19, 2021 - April 22, 2021. You can register now!
  • The AUCD Prevents will be virtual on March 19 and April 16. You may register for those free events now.
Action steps:


logo of AUCD Policy Talk
AUCD Policy Talk

"The majority of people with disabilities face an uphill battle for qualifying for vaccinations, accessing vaccination website information, making appointments, and finding accessible vaccination sites."

This week on AUCD Policy Talk, Tracy Waller, a lawyer with the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, details the many barriers individuals with disabilities face to accessing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Action steps:


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

This week on vintage #TWL, Liz talks to author and disability rights advocate Haben Girma about the right to accessibility for all people with disabilities.