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

Healthcare & Community Living

A Right to Vote and A Right to Health for All: Co-liberation as the Only Path Forward

By Maddie Offstein, NCIL Summer Policy Intern

Although the U.S. has formally abolished the Jim Crow laws and poll taxes, many states are ramping up efforts to revisit their laws on voting policies and procedures after the 2020 Presidential election and creating significant barriers for many in participating in future elections. Since start of the new year alone, 18 states have enacted 30 new laws that restrict access to the ballot. Most noteworthy is the successfully passed legislation in Georgia, a state whose presidential election results were decided by a mere 11,779 votes. The law, S.B.202, includes 16 key provisions that either restrict the right to vote for some Georgia residents or transfer power from elections officials to state legislators. The major changes to state voting requirements are as follows: a shortened time period to request absentee ballots, stricter ID requirements for absentee ballots, a significant reduction in the number of ballot drop boxes (with an additional requirement that they are placed inside frequently inaccessible buildings), an almost complete elimination of mobile voting centers, and misdemeanor charges for those who offer food or water to those waiting in long polling lines. These changes will have the impact of curtailing voting access for disabled, low-income, and racially marginalized people – so egregiously that the Justice Department is suing the state on the grounds that Republican lawmakers pushed a bill through the State legislature with an intent to deny Black voters equal access to the ballot. In addition to many civil rights groups, disability rights-focused groups such as The Arc Georgia, Georgia ADAPT, and the Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO) have joined the case and added a complaint that S.B. 202 violates both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is the first-time disability rights organizations have joined, as plaintiffs, a major voting rights lawsuit.

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Information / Action Alert: Budget Reconciliation and HCBS

On Tuesday, August 10, the Senate passed their approximately $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act (H.R. 3684) in a 69-30 vote. This bill includes $550 billion in new federal spending, and on top of the traditional funding for roads, bridges, and public transit, the bill includes several new investments, including funding for improving broadband access, addressing racial inequities in infrastructure, and it includes pieces of the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act to improve accessibility of rail systems.

The next day, August 11, the Senate passed their $3.5 trillion budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 14) in a 50-49 vote. The budget resolution sets the stage for the budget reconciliation package, including the major investments in home and community based services (HCBS) and the direct support workforce that we have been fighting for. It also sets the stage for other crucial investments, including (but not limited to): filling the Medicaid gap; Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion; expanding Medicare by lowering the eligibility age and by covering vision, dental & hearing; paid family and medical leave; child nutrition; critical tax credit extensions; providing immigrants a path to citizenship; child care and universal Pre-K; tuition-free community college; Native health, education, and housing programs; housing affordability and equity; and environmental justice.

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Information Alert: NCIL Support for the Better Care Better Jobs Act

Last month, the Better Care Better Jobs Act (PDF), H.R. 4131 / S. 2210, was introduced in Congress. The effort was led by Senator Casey (D-PA), Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY), Senator Wyden (D-OR), Senator Murray (D-WA), Senator Duckworth (D-IL), Senator Hassan (D-NH), and Senator Brown (D-OH) in the Senate, and Congresswoman Dingell (D-MI), Congressman Pallone (D-NJ), Congresswoman Schakowsky (D-IL), and Congresswoman Matsui (D-CA) in the House. NCIL supports this bill’s efforts to transform the long term services and supports (LTSS) landscape.

The Better Care Better Jobs Act (BCBJA) would enact President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The Jobs Plan proposes to spend $400 billion to expand access to home and community based supports and services. The Jobs Plan would invest in the direct support workforce. The BCBJA provides a way to put that plan into motion. The BCBJA would provide states with opportunities to receive enhanced funding to improve their Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) systems.

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Share Your HCBS Story with Us

Congress is currently considering a huge investment in home and community based services (HCBS). This investment could go a long way toward making community living for all a reality – but it’s not a done deal yet.

Disabled people have the right to live in our communities with control over our lives, including our supports and services. To that end, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has been working closely with Congress, the Administration, and partner organizations in DC to make sure this critical investment happens – and to make sure it is done in the most thoughtful and inclusive way possible.

As part of these efforts, NCIL is looking for stories to share with Congress about the importance of HCBS, including (but not limited to):

  • Stories from people whose HCBS have enabled them to remain in their homes and / or participate more fully in their community
  • Stories from people who are on the waiting list for HCBS, and how not having these services has impacted their lives
  • Stories from people who have been able to transition out of institutions / congregate settings because of HCBS

Our goal is to collect these stories and send them to Congress by Thursday, June 10. Please submit stories through the online form or by emailing by Wednesday, June 9 at Midnight. If you submit your story by email, please include the following information:

  • Your name (you can write “Anonymous” if you do not want to share your name):
  • The city you live in (optional):
  • The state you live in:
  • Your story, in 1-3 paragraphs:
  • May we contact you if necessary for additional follow-up?

[Sign Your Support / Solidarity] Opposition to CDC Mask Guidelines

The Partnership for Disaster Strategies has put out a statement in opposition to the CDC’s recent guidance for fully vaccinated people. In it, they express their confusion and outrage at the recommendation that fully vaccinated people “no longer need to weak masks, avoid crowds or large gatherings, isolate after exposure, or get tested unless they develop symptoms”, and note that the result will be to spread the disease amongst unvaccinated, which can lead to new variants and vaccine resistance. The statement also notes that the guidance disregards people at high-risk and many people with disabilities, putting us at even higher risk.

The Partnership is looking for organizations and individuals to sign on in support / solidarity before they share it widely and publicly. NCIL has signed on, and if can sign your name and / or organization on as well at

If you need this form in alternative format, please contact Priya Penner at

Facebook Live Event on mAbs: New Resource from the Federal COVID-19 Response Team

On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, the Federal COVID-19 Response Team will host a Facebook Live event focusing on the updated National Institutes of Health guidance on Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs). The event will feature Dr. H. Clifford Lane (NIH), Dr. Raj Gandhi (Harvard), and Ms. Cecily Waters (US Department of Health and Human Services), who will discuss the updated recommendations from the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel.

You may remember we previously sent information about monoclonal antibody treatments, which were approved earlier this year by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19. Those approvals have since been revised by the FDA to expand the list of conditions that place people with mild to moderate COVID-19 at increased risk for disease progression. This webinar will address that revision and the updated NIH guidance.

To participate, visit The event will have captions. If you have any questions, you can contact

You can also find more information about this and other updates at

Information Alert: COVID-19 and Vaccine Survey Project Findings

The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) has released two research products that resulted from the AAHD Vaccine Hesitancy Survey Among Adults with Disabilities, a rapid, real-time online study of the perspectives of adults with disabilities on the COVID-19 Vaccine. Visit to view the Vaccine Hesitancy Summary of Findings Report and the COVID-19 Vaccine and Disability Survey Vaccine Hesitancy Among Adults with Disabilities Research Report.

Paid Lex Frieden Internship Openings Available at Anthem

Anthem has 30 openings for paid internships this summer for undergraduate / graduate students. 

2021 summer interns will be integral to Anthem’s teams in a variety of roles. Interns should be prepared for a fast-paced, team environment in an internship providing a robust developmental experience and exposure to various areas of healthcare including policy, advocacy, sales, IT, communications, clinical and management support, and outreach and marketing. As part of this paid internship experience, interns are responsible for supporting their respective teams and contributing towards Anthem’s broader goals. Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, candidates can check out the Anthem career site @ and search for Lex Frieden Internship – 0141400.

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Participants Needed: 2021 National Survey on Health and Disability

Share how access to health care, insurance and the COVID-19 pandemic affects your life!

The NIDILRR-funded Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL) at the University of Kansas is looking for adults with disabilities to complete an online survey about health insurance, health care access and the current pandemic. Whether you have private insurance, insurance from an employer, TRICARE, Medicaid, Medicare, or no insurance right now, please complete the survey.

  • Adults, 18 and over, with any type of disability, chronic illness/disease, mental or physical health condition are encouraged to participate
  • The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete
  • Responses are anonymous
  • The survey may look familiar to you. It was posted in 2018 and 2019, and is being posted for a third time now. We welcome participation from those who completed it before and those who have never done it before.

To complete the survey, go to:

Whether or not you complete the survey, you can choose to enter a drawing to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards. Weekly drawings will happen until the survey closes April 30th, 2021. If you prefer to take the survey over the phone or have any questions about participating, please call toll-free 1-855-556-6328 (Voice/TTY) or email Thank you!

Information Alert: ASPR Speed Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs) Initiative / Program to Priority Settings

In an effort to make sure NCIL members have as much information about COVID-19 as possible, we want to share some information about a recently approved treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved monoclonal antibody treatments (mAb) for emergency use to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19. This treatment is intended to reduce the risk of getting sicker, requiring hospitalization, or dying from COVID. To be eligible for this treatment, a person must:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • have a mild to moderate case of COVID-19
  • be 12 years of age or older
  • be at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and / or hospitalization
  • have had symptoms for 10 days or less

Antibodies are something the body makes to fight infections. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab to fight a specific infection. The monoclonal antibodies used in these treatments were developed specifically to fight COVID-19. The monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion.