On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). While the final bill contains some disability community priorities, there are many more that weren’t addressed. The next coronavirus bill is currently being developed so now is our chance to make sure the next bill includes the critical disability priorities that were missing in the CARES Act.
Those include additional grant funding for the home and community-based services (HCBS) on which many people with disabilities rely; inclusive paid leave; a way for all people who are not normally required to file taxes to easily receive the direct cash assistance “recovery rebates”; and ensuring everyone has access to the medication they need throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
We’re asking you to please take action now to bring attention to these issues. Take part in the following weeks of action using the hashtag #WeAreEssential:
Week of 4/6/20: Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
Please continue posting about HCBS during the other weeks of action as well!
Many people with disabilities rely on HCBS to receive the care they need in their community, rather than an institution. It has always been crucial to ensure people with disabilities can access HCBS, but during this outbreak, when congregate settings especially vulnerable to spread of coronavirus, it is particularly critical to support those who receive HCBS and the direct care workers who provide those services.
Post Your Own Video:
- Tell Congress what must be included for people with disabilities in the next coronavirus relief bill.
- Record a video answers the prompt: If I don’t have healthy, safe staff to support me_____________.
- Post using the hashtag #WeAreEssential and tag your Congressperson (you can find them easily here).
- Disabled people in institutions are not disposable. Congress must act now to support our communities. #WeAreEssential
- Coronavirus numbers have increased dramatically in nursing homes and long term care facilities. Over 400 as of last week (a 200% increase). Congress needs to support these workers. #WeAreEssential
- Denying people with preexisting disabilities lifesaving treatments for distinct conditions, based on the concern that the disability limits the quality of their lives, raises deep and serious ethical questions. #WeAreEssential
- My civil rights and my life will be at stake if I cannot stay in my home during the #coronavirus outbreak. Congress needs to support home in community based services in coronavirus relief! #WeAreEssential
Week of 4/13/20: Paid Family and Medical Leave
This week is meant to target both members of Congress and the Department of Labor (DOL)
Ask Congress to expand emergency paid leave (not just paid sick leave) for people with disabilities who need to self-isolate and to ensure that caregivers other than parents can take time off to be there for their loved ones. Caregivers are also currently paid at a lower rate than everyone else. Please ask for them to receive the same pay for leave as others!
Ask DOL to allow health care workers to take paid leave if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 to protect everyone, expand paid leave for all caregivers who need to care for someone who must be in self-isolation (they currently only receive sick leave), and ensure that caregivers can use leave intermittently.
- 32% of disabled workers are employed part-time. They’re counting on Congress to expand paid leave so they can self-isolate. #WeAreEssential
- Disabled workers are more likely to work in gig or part-time roles, without access to employer-sponsored leave. Congress must expand paid leave to protect their health and safety. #WeAreEssential
- Disabled workers are more likely to be in essential service jobs. Congress must include essential workers in emergency paid leave provisions. #WeAreEssential
- COVID-19 has disrupted disabled people’s access to typical sources of assistance, making access to comprehensive paid leave that includes all caregivers even more important. #WeAreEssential
- Congress only gave people with disabilities at high risk of death from COVID-19 two weeks of paid leave—they need the full 12 weeks to be safe. Join us in demanding that Congress expand paid family leave in their next relief package. #WeAreEssential
Week of 4/20/20: Stimulus/Supplemental Security Income/Veterans Benefits
Along with #WeAreEssential, you can use #FixTheGlitch
While IRS and the Social Security Administration made sure people who receive Social Security benefits (which ARE NOT the same as Social Security Income (SSI)) can receive the “recovery rebates” without having to file taxes, the same was not done for those who receive SSI and Veterans benefits who are not normally required to file taxes.
- People with disabilities on SSI should not be forced to wait and jump through additional hoops to access needed economic relief during the pandemic. Demand that @USTreasury #FixTheGlitch & provide automatic cash stimulus payments to SSI recipients. #WeAreEssential
- The Treasury department is delaying COVID19 cash relief payments to people with SSI by requiring them to first file tax returns. It’s time they #FixTheGlitch and provide people with disabilities the same immediate access to relief others are receiving. #WeAreEssential
- More than 3 million low-income veterans, seniors, & people with disabilities will have their stimulus payments delayed because the Treasury Department is requiring them to first submit a tax return. Demand that @USTreasury #FixTheGlitch and provide automatic payments.
Week of 4/27/20: Access to Medication
While many states have taken action to make sure people have access to the medication they need throughout this crisis, not all of them have.
Please ask governors and state insurance commissioners to:
- Allow early refills, longer refill periods, and use of mail-order pharmacies
- Amend controlled substance regulations to allow for earlier refills, longer refill periods, oral prescribing, and use of mail-order pharmacies
- Uninterrupted access to personal protective equipment is critical for frontline healthcare workers, direct support professionals, and people with disabilities. Congress must compel the president to use the #DefenseProductionActNow to ramp up supply. #WeAreEssential
- 1.5 million people in the US have lupus. But they can’t access the medications they rely on due to shortages. #WeAreEssential
- People with disabilities cannot safely self-isolate unless their access to medications and other critical supplies are uninterrupted. All insurers must provide 90 day supplies of medication so disabled people can stay safe. #WeAreEssential https://www.aapd.com/covid-19
You can use this tool to easily tweet your members of Congress or Congressional leadership.
For more on what was and was not included in the CARES Act, check out the list we’ve put together here, and we have several webpages dedicated to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on people with disabilities that you can find here that explore topics including related legislation and Medicaid waivers, medical rationing, and more.