Late yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced new legislation appropriating supplemental COVID-19 emergency relief. The bill, informally referred to as a revised HEROES Act, includes several critical provisions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the community-based providers on which they rely. The move comes more than four months after the original HEROES Act—a bill with similar provisions supported by ANCOR—was passed by the House in May.
Among other provisions, the revised HEROES Act would trigger a 10 percent-point increase in funding for the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services program, formally classify direct support professionals as essential workers, and appropriate additional emergency aid for the Provider Relief Fund, initially established by the CARES Act and made available to Medicaid-funded disability service providers on June 9.
It is important to note that although the House has reaffirmed its support for these and other COVID-19 relief measures, Senate leadership had not signaled at the time of this writing that it would consider this or a similar package. Most recently, the Senate introduced its proposal for pandemic relief legislation in July; known as the HEALS Act, this proposal did not include the disability-specific provisions of the HEROES Act.
“After months of stalemate in both chambers of Congress, House leadership has offered a glimmer of hope for the pandemic’s forgotten faces that badly needed emergency funding is on the horizon,” said ANCOR chief executive officer Barbara Merrill. “We’re deeply grateful to the disability champions in the House for introducing this crucial legislation, and urge Senate leadership to pass the disability provisions of the revised HEROES Act into law ahead of November’s general elections.”
As the leading voice in Washington for more than 1,600 community-based disability service providers, ANCOR supports additional emergency funding to enable provider organizations to recruit and retain direct support professionals, procure adequate personal protective equipment, and cover additional business costs incurred due to the pandemic to ensure community-based supports remain accessible long after the pandemic is over. Advocates interested in supporting these efforts can take action today at amplifier.ancor.org.
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