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

Keep Taking Action for HCBS in the Reconciliation Package!

Negotiations about home and community based services (HCBS) in the reconciliation package are continuing in Congress. (You can read more about reconciliation in our previous alert.) The package that passed out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee funds HCBS at $190 billion, which is less than half the amount promised in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. That is not nearly enough to meet the needs of disabled people across the country.

The situation is changing quickly, and the chances of reaching a deal seem to be fading as time passes. But we cannot lose hope, and we cannot stop pressuring our Members of Congress to invest in HCBS! We need to keep urging our Members of Congress to prioritize their disabled constituents’ needs in their negotiations.

Our Members of Congress need to remember the millions of our people stuck in institutional settings. They need to be reminded about the over 800,000 on waiting lists for HCBS – many who will wait years before receiving the supports and services they need. We cannot let them forget how hard congregate settings have been – and continue to be – hit by COVID-19. And they need to understand that the direct support workers who keep us safe in our homes – most of whom are Black and brown women – have been undervalued for years.

Improving wages and benefits for our direct support workers values the work being done and the people doing the work. Investing in HCBS is critical to protecting disabled people and our workers. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent than ever.

Take action!

President Biden proposed a major investment in HCBS, and Congress introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act (BCBJA) to put that proposal into action. We need Congress to fully fund HCBS in the budget reconciliation package! Our Members of Congress need to keep hearing from us as they continue negotiations and finalize the package.

Contact both your Senators and your Representative today! Tell them they MUST meet the needs of their disabled constituents and the direct care workforce in the reconciliation package!

More information – including how to contact them and a sample script – is below.

  • Call your Senators and Representative: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Senators or Representative.
  • You can find your Senators’ phone numbers and websites at senate.gov and your Representative’s phone number and website at house.gov/representatives. If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can find out at house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.
  • You can Tweet your Senators and Representative at tweetcongress.org.
  • You can use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters by texting “RESIST” to 50409.

SAMPLE SCRIPT

(please feel free to personalize):

Hi, my name is [YOUR FULL NAME], and I’m from [CITY, STATE].

I am [calling / writing] to urge [Senator / Representative NAME] to make sure home and community based services are fully funded in the upcoming budget reconciliation package.

Many disabled people and older adults rely on HCBS to live in our homes and participate in our communities. Currently, states are not meeting the needs of their disabled residents, forcing many people to remain on years-long waiting lists and others to be institutionalized.

As we have seen, people in these settings are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. In light of the disproportionate COVID infection and death rates, improving access to HCBS is more urgent than ever. We need Congress to provide this critical and long-overdue investment.

Thank you for your time. I hope I can count on your support for your disabled constituents by fully funding HCBS in the reconciliation package.

(Your name)

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL OR EMAILING: please leave your full street address and zip code. This will ensure your call or email is tallied]

SAMPLE TWEETS

(feel free to tag your Member of Congress!)

Disabled people and older adults want to stay in their homes, but HALF of states spend twice as much on institutional care as #HCBS. Congress must invest in their disabled constituents by fully funding HCBS in the reconciliation bill. #CareCantWait

Over 820,000 people are on waiting lists for #HCBS, and most wait YEARS for needed services and supports. Disabled people and older adults need Congress to fully fund HCBS in the reconciliation package! #CareCantWait

Racially marginalized disabled people and older adults are even less likely to have access to HCBS. Fully funding #HCBS in the reconciliation package will help build more equitable systems so we can all access the care we need in our communities. #CareCantWait

Fully investing in #HCBS will help disabled people stay in the community and will expand and support the direct care workforce. Congress MUST fully fund HCBS in the reconciliation package! #CareCantWait

#HCBS ensure disabled people can access the services we need safely at home – not in dangerous institutions where #COVID19 outbreaks are rampant. Congress must fully fund HCBS in the reconciliation package! #CareCantWait

Direct support workers– most of whom are racially marginalized women– are paid an average of $11.50 per hour. Fully funding #HCBS in the reconciliation package would raise wages & benefits for these critical workers. #CareCantWait

About half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in congregate settings. Congress must fully fund #HCBS in the reconciliation bill so disabled people & older adults can stay safely at home with the services and supports we need. #CareCantWait

#Medicaid covers critical in-home supports, but current funding doesn’t meet the need. My rights, and my life, will be at risk if I can’t stay in my home. Congress must fully fund #HCBS in the reconciliation package so disabled people like me can stay safe. #CareCantWait

We have an opportunity to build a system that works for disabled people, older adults, families, and workers – but to do so, Congress must make a meaningful investment in #HCBS. Congress, please fully fund HCBS in the reconciliation package! #CareCantWait

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