Disability Policy News

July 26, 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)
                 July 26, 2021   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 28
outline of a road underneath a bridge, black and whiteInfrastructure
On Wednesday, a vote in the Senate to move forward on a $600 billion bipartisan physical infrastructure package failed, which means that Senators are still working to reach an agreement. Senators hope to reach an agreement by early next week.
  • Infrastructure means the buildings, roads, bridges, power lines, and other things our country needs to work every day. It can also include other systems that make our country work, like schools, healthcare, and other government services.
Budget Reconciliation
Work continues on the budget reconciliation package that will be used to pass many parts of Presidents Biden's Jobs and Family Plan.
  • Budget Reconciliation is a tool that makes legislation easier to pass in the Senate; a reconciliation bill only needs a simple majority (51) in the Senate.
Action Steps:
  • The most critical need is for education and advocacy around Home and Community Based Services. Members of Congress need to be hearing continuously how important the $400 billion dollar investment is to their constituents.
  • It is fair to reach out to every member of Congress and share how important the Better Care Better Jobs Act (S.2210, H.R. 4231) is.
    • The following 10 Senators have not yet supported the Better Jobs Better Care Act; contacting them should be a priority:
      • Coons
      • Carper
      • Hickenlooper
      • Cortez Masto
      • Tester
      • Warner
      • Kelly
      • Sinema
      • Ossoff
      • Manchin
  • Messages for members of Congress:
    • If they are supportive of the Better Jobs Better Care Act, thank them and share why it is so important to make sure the final package includes the $400 billion.
    • If they are not yet supportive, reach out and share why HCBS is important and offer to answer any questions as they consider becoming a co-sponsor.
Extra ways to make an impact:
  • Coordinate state advocates to sign and send a joint letter to your congressional delegation in support of the Better Care Better Jobs Act
  • Read an analysis of the Better Care Better Jobs Act by Richard Frank and Jonathan Gruber that shows that passing the legislation would enable 3.2 million more people with disabilities to access home- and community-based services (HCBS). Use the data about the impact on your state as you educate members of Congress.
  • Use social media to raise the importance of this legislation
    • Use #BetterCareBetterJobs
  • Share a personal story: Members of Congress and their staff from every state need to understand what HCBS mean to people in their state. AUCD is sharing these stories; we are looking to have stories to share from every state. Please send your story about HCBS to [email protected]
    • Short is best (3-5 sentences)
    • A picture helps
    • Stories can come from people with disabilities, family members, allies and professionals working in these systems.

graduation cap, pencil, and rulerEducation Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)
Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member, are at the beginning of bipartisan discussions to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). As part of this process, Senators Murray and Burr encourage comments. The current goal is to markup this bill in the fall. They are looking for input on:
  • How to build upon the improvements made to ESRA in the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA), which passed the U.S. Senate in December 2015;
  • How to ensure the research grants funded by the federal government produce research that is timely, useful, and addresses issues of educational equity and improved student academic achievement for our nation's students;
  • How to ensure that the Regional Educational Laboratories and the Comprehensive Centers are responsive to the needs of our nation's schools and school districts and help educators and administrators implement evidence-based practices in our nation's classrooms;
  • How to support and strengthen the administration of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP);
  • Strategies to encourage innovation in education research; and
  • Updates or changes needed for the National Center for Special Education Research.

All ideas may be submitted to [email protected] no later than 5pm on Monday, July 26th.

three dollar bills, black and whiteSubminimum Wage
On Wednesday July 21, the Subcommittees on Workforce Protections and Civil Rights and Human Services held a joint subcommittee hearing to discuss phasing out the subminimum wage and helping workers with disabilities transition to competitive, integrated employment through the bipartisan Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act.
Plain language:
  • This bill would make sure all workers with disabilities are paid at least the federal minimum wage.
    • The minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that an employer can pay an employee.
What it means to you:
  • It is important that people with disabilities have employment opportunities and access to employment support services and are paid well for their work.
Action steps:

Icon of hand holding blank health insurance cardPublic Charge
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an informational bulletin to states' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies reaffirming that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule - "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" - is no longer in effect and states should encourage their eligible immigrant populations to access public benefits related to health and housing.

DHS will no longer consider a person's receipt of Medicaid (except Medicaid for long-term institutionalization) as a part of a public charge determination when deciding immigration status.

Plain Language:
  • The use of health and housing services will not be used to keep people from immigrating to America.

What it means to you:
  • Many people have not used Medicaid and other services because they were worried that it would hurt their immigration cases. The federal government is asking state and local governments and leaders to let people know that this is no longer the case and they should access services they needs

Action Steps:

medical injection needle and calendar, black and white
Vaccine Distribution
Because of the elevated risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19, vaccination is critically important for people with disabilities. However, we know that many people with disabilities and the direct care staff that support them continue to face significant barriers to getting vaccinated. AUCD continues its efforts towards the goal of supporting at least one vaccine dose for all eligible individuals with disabilities by the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26th.
Plain language:
  • Work is happening to make sure all people can get the COVID-19 vaccines. If you have been vaccinated there are now fewer restrictions.
What it means to you:
  • Work is happening to make sure everyone can get their COVID-19 vaccine and feels safe doing so.
Action steps:

logo of AUCD Policy Talk AUCD Policy Talk
"Network providers' inequitable broadband service and complacency to improve it in predominantly Black, low-income neighborhoods reflects institutional, implicit bias. People with disabilities already experience heightened, structural barriers of access to these utilities. Many people with disabilities are also people of color. Much of the disability community undoubtedly suffers from digital redlining."
This week on #AUCDPolicyTalk, Sara Bovat, AUCD 2021-2022 Policy Fellow, discusses the importance of the bipartisan infrastructure bills in addresses digital redlining and broadband access inequities.
Action steps:

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub Tuesdays with Liz Contest
Listen to Holly Carmichael from GT Independence Talk about the importance of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are for people with disabilities. Holly is the Chief Operating Officer at GT and has spent her life advocating for self-direction. Advocating for more funding for HBCS is important for self-direction. Learn about self-direction and its relation to HCBS on Liz's latest episode of Tuesdays with Liz. AUCD TWL with GT Independence about HCBS - YouTube.
Did you know that Liz has a new YouTube Channel? You can help spread her message by:

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For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's List of Policy Definitions