Senate Action Needed on Developing a Fourth Coronavirus Package

The Senate must act to pass legislation that includes the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce in a new Coronavirus package. In May, the House passed its fourth coronavirus package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800) with a vote of 208-199.

This package includes:

  • Increased federal funding for home and community based services (HCBS) under Medicaid
  • Expanded eligibility for economic impact payments to adult dependents and another round of payments
  • Paid leave eligibility for family caregivers of adults with disabilities, including siblings and grandparents

See The Arc’s statement. We urge you to contact your Senators now.

House Passes Fourth Coronavirus Package

On May 15, the House passed its fourth coronavirus package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800) with a vote of 208-199.

This package includes:

  • Increased federal funding for home and community based services (HCBS) under Medicaid
  • Expanded eligibility for economic impact payments to adult dependents and another round of payments
  • Paid leave eligibility for family caregivers of adults with disabilities, including siblings and grandparents

See The Arc’s statement. Now we need the Senate to pass legislation that includes the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce. Contact your Senators now.

Fourth Coronavirus Package Under Development

Congressional leaders continue work on another COVID-19 package that could be voted on this month. House Democrats are expected to release a package soon that will provide funding for state and local governments to address revenue shortfalls. It is also expected to include an additional round of direct payments and more funding for Medicaid, nutritional benefits, and unemployment insurance. The Arc’s priorities for that measure are:

  • Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
  • Personal protective equipment for DSPs
  • Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
  • Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adult dependents

Interim Coronavirus Bill Enacted; Other Package Under Development

On April 24, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The bill includes $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for disaster loans, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders continue work on another package that could be voted on some time in May. The Arc’s priorities for that measure include:

  • Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
  • Personal Protective Equipment for DSPs
  • Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
  • Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adult dependents

Interim Coronavirus Bill Could Advance This Week; Other Package Under Development

The House and Senate could vote this week on a new coronavirus aid package that is being negotiated by the White House and Congressional negotiators. Initial reports of the deal include $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders continue work on another package that could be voted on in early May. The Arc’s priorities for that measure include:

•        Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce

•        Personal Protective Equipment for DSPs

•        Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities

•       Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adult dependents

Congress Weighs Fourth Coronavirus Bill

This week, Congressional leaders continue to consider a possible fourth coronavirus response package and what should be included in it. The Arc’s priorities include:

  • Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
  • Personal protective equipment for DSPs
  • Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
  • Allowing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to receive their Recovery Rebates without filing needless paperwork

Read The Arc’s blog for more information.

Congress Approves COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Last week, both houses of Congress approved and President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion bill to address the economic and other impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The final bill addresses some priorities of the disability community by allowing non-profit organizations that serve people with I/DD to receive small business loan assistance, allowing direct support professionals (DSPs) to accompany people they support in hospitals, extending the Money Follows the Person program, and providing additional funds for education (which can be used for special education) and housing. However, the bill missed the mark by failing to include more funding for home and community based services, address the shortage of medical equipment or DSPs, or fund paid time off for family caregivers of people with disabilities. Furthermore, while people receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for recovery rebates without risk of losing their benefits, the bill requires them to files taxes, regardless of income level. Learn more about recovery rebates here. Read The Arc’s statement.

Direct Support Professionals: Bipartisan Legislation Creating Separate Code for DPSs Introduced in the House and Senate

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Sean Maloney (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act (S.3369/H.R.6045). This bill directs the Office of Management and Budget to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to create a separate code for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). A separate code will allow states and the federal government to collect more accurate data to address turnover and shortages. The Arc Supports this legislation.

Tell Congress to Recognize the Role of Direct Support Professionals!

Direct Support Professionals: Senators Introduce Legislation to Allow DSPs in Hospitals

On January 21, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act (S.3220). This bill would allow 1915(c) waiver recipients to bring their direct support professionals (DSPs) with them to the hospital. Medicaid does not currently cover DSPs when a 1915(c) waiver recipient is admitted to the hospital, leading patients to rely on hospital staff not trained on their individual needs. The Arc supports this legislation.

PHI Releases First in Year-Long Series of Reports on Direct Care Workforce

On January 21, PHI released the first of a year-long series of reports on the direct care workforce. This report, titled “It’s Time to Care: A Detailed Profile of America’s Direct Care Workforce,” covers the basic terminology in the field of direct care, explores the evolving nature of direct care and growing need for it, and offers policy solutions to address the workforce shortage. The report recommends increasing compensation and creating a workforce pipeline.