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

Urgent Action Alert: Tell Congress to Include People with Disabilities in Their COVID-19 Response!

Congress will be working through the weekend on their Phase 3 legislative package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has already passed two bills (more information at www.ncil.org/covid-19), and while these were good steps, neither addressed the specific needs of people with disabilities. Disabled people are at disproportionate risk during this pandemic, and it is critical that all future legislation addresses our needs!

The key priorities the next bill must include are:

  • More funding for Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS)! We need to make sure states have the resources to respond to increasing needs so people with disabilities can access the supports and services we need, and so people aren’t involuntarily institutionalized during this pandemic.
  • More funding for personal care attendants (PCAs) and direct support professionals (DSPs)! Among other things, this funding could be used to increase rates for PCAs / DSPs; provide paid sick time, family leave, overtime or hazard pay to PCAs / DSPs; and provide HCBS to individuals on waiting lists.
  • More funding for educational services for disabled students and protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)! Senator McConnell’s recent proposal opens the door to waiving protections under IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. As schools are working hard to ensure that learning continues even as schools are closed, now more than ever we need IDEA and Section 504 to be protected. And, we need significant increases in funding to State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) for IDEA instructional and support services during this pandemic!
  • Ensuring access to medications! This must include removing barriers to accessing a 90-day emergency supply of medications regardless of payer (including for controlled substances), as well as flexibility around the amount that can be filled / refilled.
  • Increased funding and expansion of nutritional services! The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expanded some nutritional services, but it didn’t go far enough. Congress needs to increase funding and further expand nutritional services, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Meals on Wheels.
  • More funding for Centers for Independent Living (CILs)! As you saw in our previous alert, Congress must ensure CILs have additional funding to respond to this crisis and meet the needs of disabled people in their communities.

Take Action!

Our Members of Congress must hear from their disabled constituents. They need to know that people with disabilities matter and cannot be left out of the COVID-19 response! Congress is moving quickly, so please contact your Senators and Representative now, and continue to reach out all through the weekend! We urge you to contact them in as many ways as you can, including social media! Please note that because of the pandemic, there aren’t many staffers in Congressional offices to answer phones right now. If you can, focus on email and social media to make your voice heard!

You can find your Senators’ contact form at senate.gov and your Representative’s contact form at house.gov/representatives. You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into emails, faxes, or letters by texting “RESIST” to 50409. You will be helped to write a letter, which Resistbot will deliver. When asked which legislators to send it to, choose “CONGRESS”. You can find your Members’ Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and other contact information on Contacting Congress. You can also tweet at Congressional leadership – Mitch McConnell (@SenateMajLdr), Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer), Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi), and Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader). A common hashtag being used is #WhatWeNeed.

Here is a sample script. Please personalize it and put it in your own words if you can:

Hi, this is (NAME), and I’m from (CITY, STATE).

I’m writing to ask (SENATOR or REPRESENTATIVE) to make sure that any legislation related to the coronavirus pandemic addresses the needs of people with disabilities. The first two packages were a good start, but more has to be done to meet our needs. People with disabilities are disproportionately at risk during this pandemic, and we are relying on Congress for assistance to stay healthy and safe.

I am asking that you ensure the next package includes:

  • More funding for Medicaid home and community based services;
  • More funding for personal care attendants (PCAs) and direct support professionals (DSPs);
  • More funding for educational services for disabled students and protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504;
  • Ensuring access to prescription medications;
  • Increased funding and expansion of nutritional services, including SNAP and Meals on Wheels; and
  • More funding for Centers for Independent Living.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

(NAME)

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent Living

Comments

  1. Lois Vasquez says

    Do the right thing now so people suffer less.

  2. Can’t you just start petition for us to sign and register email
    I have a disabled son from military

  3. Freda Wiley says

    I like this.

  4. JOHN ALEXANDER LOWELL says

    As trained & authorized Christian minister with the United Church of Christ on Accessibility Ministry to People with Disabilities I firmly demand Congress, POTUS & the CDC fully address the medical needs of people with disabilities inflicted with the COVID-19 causing novel coronavirus.

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