Congress passes COVID-19 relief that leaves out pressing disability community priorities

December 22, 2020

Late last night, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes both general government funding and coronavirus relief provisions. While the coronavirus relief provisions include some urgently needed aid, Congress once again failed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. We urge the incoming Biden Administration and Congress to begin work on a new coronavirus relief package quickly in January.

The COVID-19 relief provisions do not include dedicated funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) that is urgently needed to help disabled people and older adults live safely in their homes rather than being forced into nursing homes and other congregate settings where COVID-19 is rampant. Additional stimulus checks are also provided, but adults with disabilities who qualify as dependents are again unfairly excluded.

The government funding portion of the bill, however, does extend funding for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program for three years, along with spousal impoverishment protections. MFP has helped over 91,000 disabled people and older adults transition from nursing facilities and other institutions, which have been especially hard hit by COVID-19, back to the community. Despite its success, many states have had to slow or completely shut down their MFP programs because of the uncertainty caused by repeated short term funding extensions from Congress.

While we have been advocating for permanent funding of MFP, and will continue to do so, the three year funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act will provide states with long term funding at a time when transitions are more crucial than ever. It also includes important changes to the program, like lowering the number of days someone has to spend in an institution before qualifying for MFP from 90 days to 60.

You can find more information on why MFP matters here. For what disability priorities were and were not included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, check out our fact sheet. A comparison of the bill and other recent coronavirus relief proposals is also available here.

More details on this bill and previously passed coronavirus relief bills, along with the various proposals that have been introduced in the past few months, are available here.