Coronavirus Response Bill Signed into Law and Next Bill in Progress – Act NOW!

March 19, 2020

Now is the time for Congress to act to protect people with disabilities, who are particularly at risk as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. Late yesterday, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and President Trump signed it into law. The bill is an important first step, with increased Medicaid funding, emergency paid leave, increased funding for food assistance, and free coronavirus testing. But more must be done to support people with disabilities throughout this crisis.

We need to make our voices heard NOW to ensure future legislation already in the works responding to the COVID-19 crisis addresses the needs of people with disabilities.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, of which CPR is a co-chair, sent a letter in support of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and identifying further areas where legislation is needed. Legislative efforts in the coming days must meet the needs of people with disabilities.

Priorities include providing more funding for Medicaid home and community-based services and more inclusive paid leave than were provided in the Families First Act, access to medical supplies and 90 day supplies of medications, emergency income relief with increased asset limits for Medicaid and other means-tested programs, and protections for the rights of people with disabilities.

The Families First Act provides a start to addressing some of these priorities, but it alone is not enough. Given the fast-moving nature of this crisis, it’s crucial that Congress work quickly to pass legislation that recognizes the outsized impact this is having and will continue to have on disabled people. Please contact your members of Congress now and ask them to ensure that future legislation related to the pandemic addresses the needs of people with disabilities. At this time, many offices are not taking phone calls, so right now it may be best to contact them via email and/or social media. You can find links to contact them via email or Twitter and Facebook here and in the information below.

CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TODAY! More information and a call in script are included below.

For updates and additional resources on COVID-19 and its impact on people with disabilities, visit our webpage.

Contact your Members of Congress:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your members of Congress.
  2. You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress. This tool also has links to each member’s Twitter and Facebook and a link to contact them via email.
  3. You can also email your members directly through this portal put together by our friends at NDSC that uses our script below.
Easy Email or Call Script:

Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State].

I am [calling/writing] to ask [Senator’s or Representative’s Name] to please ensure that legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic addresses the needs of people with disabilities. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was just passed is an important first step, but more must be done now to meet the needs of people with disabilities, who are especially impacted by this crisis.

I ask that you also ensure any future legislation include:

  • Increased Medicaid funding to help state Medicaid systems cope with increased need during this crisis. The Families First Act’s increased funding is a good starting point, but more will be necessary.
  • Permanent reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program to allow states to continue to support the transition of people with disabilities from institutions into the community and lessen the threat to their health and rights of posed by unnecessary institutionalization in congregate settings
  • Access to a 90-day supply of medication and medical supplies and ongoing access to long-term services and supports
  • Paid leave coverage for when a person needs to fill in to provide care to a family member with a disability because their care worker is sick or their program closes. The Families First Act did not include paid leave coverage in these circumstances.
  • Emergency income relief that includes people with disabilities. This means eliminating or raising asset limits in the means tested programs many people with disabilities rely on, including SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid.
  • Protections for the civil rights of people with disabilities, including ensuring they are not forced into institutional settings (where they are also at higher risk) or discriminated against in access to care and treatment

Thank you!

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]