On March 14, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes increased Medicaid funding, emergency paid leave, increased funding for food assistance, and free coronavirus testing. A summary of the bill can be found here. On March 16, the House amended the bill (bill text here) and sent it over to the Senate. It’s crucial that we ensure that legislation related to this pandemic recognizes the outsized impact this is having and will continue to have on disabled people.
The Families First Act is an important first step, and we are asking the Senate to pass this bill NOW. We hope the Senate can make some improvements to the paid leave to better accommodate people with disabilities either in this bill or the next package. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (of which CPR is a co-chair) sent a letter to the Senate urging passage of the House bill with updates to better meet the needs of people with disabilities and identifying further areas where legislation is needed.
During this crisis, Medicaid must be protected and funding must be increased to help state Medicaid systems cope with increased need and worsening provider shortages as workers become ill. People with disabilities must have access to a 90-day supply of medications and medical supplies and ongoing access to the long term services and supports (LTSS) they need. Paid leave provided must be inclusive. That includes paid leave not only when the person or a family member is infected but also when the person needs to fill in for a caretaker who is sick or provide care when a program closes. And we need to make sure the civil rights of people with disabilities are protected throughout the crisis, including that they are not forced into institutional or other congregate settings (where they are also at higher risk) and that they are not discriminated against in access to care and treatment. The Families First Act is a start to addressing some of these issues.
Congress needs to act quickly to provide states with the resources they need to meet the threat posed by COVID-19. The Senate is expected to vote on the Coronavirus Response Act early this week, so please call your Senators NOW and urge them to quickly pass this bill, with fixes to the paid leave provisions in this or the next bill.
Please call your Senators TODAY!
More information and a call in script is included below.
For updates and additional resources on COVID-19 and its impact on people with disabilities, visit our dedicated webpage.
Call your Members of Congress:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators.
- You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress.
Easy Call Script:
Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State].
I am calling to ask [Senator’s Name] to vote for the House coronavirus bill. It is critical that the Senate pass this bill immediately. While there is more that must be done, this bill is an important first step to addressing this crisis. It is critical that the Senate act quickly to pass legislation that includes the needs of people with disabilities, who are especially impacted by this crisis.
The House bill provides a good starting point and should be passed now. I ask that the Senate bill include paid leave coverage for when a person needs to fill in to provide care to a family member with a disability (child or adult) because their care worker is sick or their program closes. Such inclusive paid leave was in the original House legislation, but not the final bill that passed in the House. If the Senate cannot fix it in this bill without delay, it must be addressed in the next bill.
I ask that you also ensure that future legislation also include:
- Increased Medicaid funding to help state Medicaid systems cope with increased need. The House bill’s increased funding is a good starting point, but more will be necessary to meet the needs of this crisis.
- Access to a 90-day supply of medication and medical supplies and ongoing access to long-term services and supports
- 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 for taking my call![IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]