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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

CARES Act Signed Into Law

The President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S. 3548) into law. The House passed the CARES Act on Friday after it was passed by the Senate on Wednesday. Read the final bill (PDF).

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package. While the CARES Act did address some of the disability community’s needs, most of our priorities were not included. Disabled people are at disproportionate risk during this pandemic, and Congress must do more to ensure all future legislation addresses our needs.

Some of the specific requests we’ve been making to Congress that did get included in the CARES Act are:

  • All people, including people on means-tested and other disability programs, like Social Security Disability (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid, are eligible for stimulus rebates provided in the CARES Act. There may, however, be additional barriers, since they are primarily tied to tax returns.
  • Centers for Independent Living (CILs) were provided an extra $85 million! This is part of $995 million in funding for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), to be available through September 30, 2021. (A note about CIL funding: the language in the Rehabilitation Act applies, so we expect this money to be distributed the same way as any other appropriations. We are looking for guidance to come from ACL and the Independent Living Administration. Also note that while we requested funding for Part B and Part C, all $85 million is Part C funding.)
  • Nonprofit organizations that receive Medicaid funding will be eligible for small business loans. The provision excluding these organizations from accessing these loans was removed in the final language.
  • Money Follows the Person (MFP) and Spousal Impoverishment protections were both extended through November 30, 2020.
  • People who receive home and community based services (HCBS) can have their direct support professionals (DSPs) / personal care attendants (PCAs) provide services in the hospital.

However, many of our priorities were not addressed. The disability community was very clear about the critical needs we have during this crisis, and many of our needs were ignored. We need to make sure Congress knows that any future legislation must include:

  • More funding for Medicaid with specific, dedicated funding for HCBS.
  • More support for DSPs and PCAs.
  • Making sure family caregivers for disabled adults are covered by paid leave.
  • Protection of the rights of people with disabilities, which includes prohibiting discrimination in medical decision-making and involuntary institutionalization.
  • Increases in funding to State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) instructional and support services during this pandemic.
  • Ensuring access to medications for all people, including people who rely on controlled substances.
  • Permanent reauthorization of MFP.

Congress has gone into recess, but we urge you to continue engaging with your Members of Congress. They must hear from their constituents that their job is not done. More action will be needed to meet the disability community’s needs. Our health, our safety, and our lives depend on it.

For more information, resources, and past alerts about COVID-19, visit www.ncil.org/covid-19.

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Comments

  1. Pilar Cole says

    We will continue, calling Congress, til Are needs are met, not just a piece, ALL, We want Back Down!

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