Disability Policy News

March 28, 2022


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 28, 2022   |   Vol. MMXXI, Issue 34

COVID Guidance and Updates

The current pandemic continues to evolve and AUCD continues to advocate for additional emergency funding, updated guidance and resources. As the pandemic continues to unfold, AUCD supports the need for Congress to appropriate additional COVID supplemental funding. Supplemental funding was not included as part of the omnibus appropriations bills to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2022. AUCD signed on to this letter requesting supplemental funding to make sure crucial pandemic response work continues, including making sure people have access to vaccines, boosters, testing and treatment regardless of whether they have health insurance.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may, under section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, determine that a disease presents a public health emergency (PHE). The current public health emergency was renewed for 90 days on January 16, 2022. AUCD signed onto a letter raising concerns that if the PHE is not renewed, there are questions that need to be answered to make sure people with disabilities and older adults continue to be protected. AUCD also signed on to the letter asking that the CDC revise its mask guidance.

Plain Language:
Work continues with Congress and federal agencies to keep people with disabilities safe during the pandemic.

What It Means for You: 
AUCD and coalition partners continue to work to be sure people with disabilities remain safe because the funding for the pandemic and emergency may be coming to an end.

President Biden’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Released

On March 2, 2022, President Biden released the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, with four goals that include:

(1) Protecting against and treating COVID-19 by: Providing vaccines for children under five years old. Increasing the number of vaccines manufactured. Creating one stop centers for people to receive COVID-19 tests and treatment in the same place. Launching a new website for people to find information about community COVID-19 risk more easily. Increasing research and treatment for Long COVID (COVID related symptoms that lasts a long time). Increasing equitable access to testing and treatment for people with disabilities. Accelerating research and development of accessible COVID-19 self-tests. 

(2) Preparing for new COVID-19 variants by: Increasing surveillance efforts to identify new COVID-19 variants. Developing new treatments and vaccines as needed. Developing faster approval processes for vaccines and treatments. Increasing the U.S. stockpile of COVID-19 protection equipment, tests and treatments. 

(3) Preventing economic and educational shutdowns by: Giving schools supplies and tests to improve ventilation and air filtration so they can remain open. Increasing paid sick leave for workers who get COVID-19 or care for someone with it. Working with programs that care for an educate young children so they can remain open.

(4) Providing COVID-19 vaccinations for other countries: Donating COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need.

Plain Language:
The National COVID-⁠19 Preparedness Plan calls for a new vaccine for young children and more research about Long COVID (COVID that lasts a long time). President Biden wants people with disabilities to have more ability to get COVID-19 testing and treatment including accessible home tests. The Presidents wants the country to be ready for new kinds of COVID and to be able to keep schools and businesses open.

What It Means for You:
The President’s National COVID-⁠19 Preparedness Plan hopes to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatment for young children and people with disabilities. Research about Long COVID will help more people remain to remain safe and healthy. Also, the country needs to plan ahead for new kinds of COVID.

Action Steps:
Read the summary of the National COVID-⁠19 Preparedness Plan or read the full plan.

Helping People with Disabilities in Ukraine

On March 17, 2022, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) released a call for the support, protection and safety of Ukrainians with Disabilities. On March 7, 2022, AUCD also signed onto a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to Senate leadership requesting an additional $25 million as part of any emergency supplemental appropriations bill related to Ukraine. The funds would support disability-led organizations, civil society organizations and on-governmental organizations with expertise in disability rights to protect people with disabilities in Ukraine and neighboring countries. The letter also requests funds to help protect people with disabilities from abandonment, provide support for evacuation and refugee assistance as needed, along with full inclusion in international relief efforts. The final Ukraine supplemental package included as part of the omnibus appropriations bills to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2022 included $13.6 billion for Ukraine but the funding was not specifically targeted to helping people with disabilities. 

Plain Language:
The countries of Russia and Ukraine are at war. Because of the war, Ukrainian people with disabilities need help to stay safe. AUCD and other organizations are trying to help the people of Ukraine by suggesting donations and asking Congress providing money to help Ukrainians with disabilities.

What It Means for You:
Many countries are helping the people in Ukraine during the war and the U.S. is helping too.

Action Steps:
Read AUCD’s Statement in EnglishSpanish and Plain Language.

Read CCD’s letter.

New Reports on Home and Community Based Services

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released two new reports on Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). The first brief focuses on the number of people served and amount of spending during the pandemic. This is the most recent data and the first since the onset of the pandemic. The second brief focuses on policy choices related to HCBS made by state agencies during the pandemic. AUCD continues to support the need for a $150 billion investment in HCBS as part of any economic and social spending package. AUCD signed on to this letter to President Biden and this letter to Congress.

Plain Language: 
There is new data about how people used Medicaid’s HCBS during the pandemic and how states used their HCBS funding.

What It Means for You:
Funding for Medicaid’s HCBS is critical to making sure people with disabilities can live and work in the community.

Action Steps:
Call and educate members of Congress about the importance of Medicaid’s HCBS. HCBS funding allows people with disabilities to live and work in their communities.

Civil Rights for Early Childhood Care and Education Systems

On March 18, 2022, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released Civil Rights Principles for Early Care and Education (ECE). AUCD and 45 other civil rights and education organizations signed the principles, which call for early childhood care and education systems to protect civil rights and advance equity for children, families, staff, and providers, particularly those who have historically been marginalized. Early childhood care and education programs for young children change lives, especially for children with limited family incomes and children of color,  and they promote successful educational outcomes and overall well-being. The organizations that signed the principles call for the principles to be incorporated into all relevant early childhood care and education policies.

Plain Language:
Early childhood care and education programs for young children must be fair and protect the civil rights of all children.

What It Means for You: 
It is important that early childhood care and education systems for young children are equitable and protect the civil rights of young children, their families, and care providers. These principles should be included in the policies of all early childhood care and education programs for young children. This will improve education and care for young children.

Action Steps: 
Read the principles in English or Spanish.

Connect with your young child’s early childhood care and education systems for young children and ask them to incorporate the principles into their policies.

Q&A on Students with Disabilities in Private Schools

In February 2022, the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs issued a revised Question and Answer (Q&A) On Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools.

Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its implementing regulations contain specific requirements regarding state and local responsibilities for equitable services for children with disabilities who are placed in private schools by their parents.

The Q&A provides state education agencies, local education agencies, parents, private school officials, advocacy organizations, and other stakeholders with updated information regarding the requirements. The Q&A looks at how to provide equitable services, requirements related to transportation, requirements for dispute resolution and requirements for students in specific types of school situations including homeschool settings, preschool settings, state voucher and scholarship programs and for-profit private schools. 

Plain Language:
The U.S. Department of Education has released new guidance for how to apply IDEA  to students with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools.

What It Means For You:
There are new requirements regarding students with disabilities placed in private schools by their parents.

Action Steps:
Read the new Q&A.

AbilityOne Commission Releases Strategic Plan for 2022-2026

The On March 18, 2022, the United States AbilityOne Commission released a draft of their Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Strategic Plan for public review and comment. The draft proposal will be available for public review and comment until April 18, 2022.

The Strategic Plan includes three strategic objectives:

  • Expand competitive integrated employment (CIE) for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.

  • Ensure effective governance across the AbilityOne Program.

  • Partner with Federal agencies and AbilityOne stakeholders to increase and improve CIE opportunities for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.

Plain Language:
The AbilityOne Commission has shared their goals for 2022-2026. The goals include providing jobs in the community for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities, helping the agency work better, and helping the agency work together with other agencies.

What It Means for You:
The opportunity to provide public comments gives an opportunity for you to improve the plan of the AbilityOne Commission

Action Steps:
Read the request for public comment. Submit your public comments through regulations.gov by April 16, 2022. (Document #CPPBSD-2022-0003).

U.S. Department of Education’s Real Pay for Real Jobs Initiative for People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration invites applications for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project grant for State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies. The project is focused onincreasing access for people with disabilities to get jobs in competitive integrated employment (CIE). SWTCIE will help end practices that allow some employers to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage (subminimum wage) to people with disabilities.

The new grant program will sponsor innovative approaches that allow people with disabilities to successfully secure jobs working alongside their peers without disabilities while earning the same pay. To help eliminate subminimum wage employment, this competition will award grants to as many as 18 State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and their partners. The jobs will be in critical need areas, including home and community-based services, the arts, or transportation and related industries. In addition, grant applicants may submit proposals in other areas that will transition people from subminimum wage employment to CIE. Grant application notice.

Plain Language:
People with disabilities should not get paid less than people without disabilities. This new grant to some states will help the states to start new programs that will help people with disabilities to get paid minimum wage.

What It Means for You:
State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies can apply for a new grant that will help to start new programs that will help people with disabilities to get paid minimum wage. These grants will help states to stop using subminimum wage.

Action Steps:
Read the press release about the new grant.

Email or call your State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency to suggest they apply for the grant.

National Council on Disability (NCD) Report: Medicaid Oral Health Coverage for Adults with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities – A Fiscal Analysis

On March 9, 2022, the National Council on Disability (NCD) issued a report titled Medicaid Oral Health Coverage for Adults with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities – A Fiscal Analysis. The report reviews the experiences of adult Medicaid recipients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) when receiving dental care. The report is part of an ongoing research project to incentivize dentists to participate in Medicaid. Of the nearly 7.3 million adults with IDD, nearly 4.5 million rely on Medicaid for health coverage, but Medicaid does not uniformly provide dental coverage. Twelve states do not provide basic dental benefits. Seven of those twelve states provide minimal dental coverage under waivers.

Lack of Medicaid dental coverage leads Medicaid recipients with IDD to avoid routine and preventative dental care. Instead, they tend to wait until an emergency to seek dental care, at greater cost, and with a risk of developing chronic and more serious health conditions. Poor dental health increases the likelihood of having poor physical health. The NCD’s research indicates that the federal and state governments would save money by offering Medicaid dental benefits.

The report recommends that:

(1) states add Medicaid dental benefits for adults with IDD to plans;

(2) states fund programs to remove barriers, including transportation barriers, to accessing dental care; and

(3) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conduct research and provide recommendations to decrease the need to receive dental care in the operating room generally, but to improve access for people with IDD so they can receive dental care in an operating room, if needed.

Plain Language:
People with IDD have poorer dental health than people without IDD. They also face bigger barriers to getting dental care. NCD wrote a report with advice to make it easier for people with IDD to get dental care. The report recommends that Medicaid cover the cost of dental health services.

What It Means for You:
A lot of people with IDD receive Medicaid to cover health care costs. It is important that Medicaid cover the cost of dental health in addition to physical health. If these costs are not covered by Medicaid, it will mean that more people with IDD will have poor dental health which can lead to poor physical health.

Action Steps:
Read the summary or the full report.

Read NCD’s Health Equity Framework to learn more about equal access in healthcare.

Talk to your medical or dental healthcare provider about any health care access issues you have.

ADA Web Accessibility Guidelines

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice published new guidance on how websites can comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The guidance is aimed at state and local governments (covered under Title II of the ADA) and businesses open to the public (covered under Title III of the ADA). The guidance discusses the importance of web accessibility, the barriers inaccessible websites create and when the ADA requires websites to be accessible. It also describes tips on how to make websites accessible to people with disabilities. The guidance summarizes the U.S. Department of Justice’s work to promote website accessibility. The guidance offers plain language and user-friendly explanations to make sure that it can be followed by people without a legal or technical background. The Department recently entered into settlement agreements with pharmacies and other businesses to make sure that websites to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments are accessible.

Plain Language:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires websites to be accessible to people with disabilities.

What It Means for You:
The U.S. Department of Justice wants to make sure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities so they can access needed services and supports from governments and businesses.

Action Steps:
Read the Justice Department announcement or read the full guidance.

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

Did you know that Liz has a YouTube Channel? 

'Tuesdays with Liz' is a weekly video series highlighting current issues in disability policy. It is hosted by Liz Weintraub, a long-time disability advocate, and produced by AUCD.

You can help spread her message by:
  • Subscribing to the Tuesdays with Liz YouTube Channel!
  • Liking videos on the channel
  • Making comments on the channel

Subscribe to Updates  Browse Archived Issues

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

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