COVID Relief: Senate Releases Framework for Next Package; Advocacy Needed

Last week, the Senate released a framework for its fourth COVID-19 response bill. The package of bills, called the Healthcare, Economic Assistance, Liability, and Schools (HEALS) Act, fails to include all but one of the disability community’s priorities. The HEALS Act provides a lower extended federal unemployment benefit; funding for schools, child care, and COVID testing; another round of funding for the paycheck protection program; expanded tax credits; and waivers of liability for hospitals, schools, state governments, and businesses. While it would provide a $500 tax rebate for all adult dependents, unfortunately, it does not include The Arc’s other critical priorities: additional home and community based services (HCBS) funding, increased access to personal protective equipment for direct support professionals, or any expansion of paid leave. This framework is a starting point that will be subject to negotiation in the coming weeks.

See a blog post from Nicole Jorwic, The Arc’s Senior Director for Public Policy. We urge you to contact your Senators here.

COVID Relief – Senate Bill Expected Today; Advocacy Still Needed

Senate Republicans have indicated that they plan to release their proposal for the next round of coronavirus relief spending today. While the details are not yet known, it has been reported that the $1 trillion package may include another round of direct payments to individuals, a lower expanded federal unemployment insurance benefit, and funding for schools and COVID-19 testing. The proposal will be used to begin negotiations on the next package.

The Arc’s priorities for the next package include:

  • Increased federal funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) under Medicaid
  • Increased access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals
  • 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 July 7 update here. We urge you to contact your Senators.

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.

Senate Committee Holds Paid Leave Roundtable

On June 18, the Senate Committee on Finance Bipartisan Working Group on Paid Family Leave held a roundtable titled “Paid Leave Proposals in the COVID Era.” The working group is co-chaired by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Witnesses at the roundtable were Adrienne Schweer, Leader of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Paid Family Leave Task Force; Erika Moritsugu, Vice President for Economic Justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families; and Carrie Lukas, President of the Independent Women’s Forum. Visit the Committee website for more information or to access video of the hearing.

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.

Family Support/Employment: House Committee Holds Hearing on Paid Sick Leave Legislation

On March 11, the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on the Healthy Families Act (H.R.1784). This bill provides for paid and unpaid sick leave for employees to meet their own medical needs and those of their families. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with at least one hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours of paid sick leave a year. Visit the Committee website for more information or to view archived video of the hearing. The Arc supports this legislation.