Capitol Correspondence - 03.24.20

COVID-19: What You Can Do to Ensure Disability Supports Survive the Outbreak

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Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all branches of the federal government and states are moving fast—but not always coordinating—as they respond to the crisis. In response to this patchwork of government actions, ANCOR is asking all levels of government to not overlook the fragility of the network of essential supports for people with disabilities during this crisis…and creating tools to help you voice your concerns! Below we list the full range of our advocacy and how you can participate to make sure people with disabilities have the supports they need during and after this outbreak. 

Asking Congress for emergency funding: Our Government Relations team is currently pushing for language in a bill, S.3544 / H.R.6305, to be included in any new COVID-19 congressional funding package. The bill specifically directs emergency funding to Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), which funds most disability supports in the United States. ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill has also taken to the opinion page of The Hill, a publication read by most congressional staff, to further lay out the case for this funding.

  • What you can do: Use our action tools to ask your members of Congress to support emergency funding for disability supports and other priorities that would strengthen supports during the outbreak. Please bookmark that page as we update our action tools frequently to reflect developments in Congress.

Asking the Administration for guidance: ANCOR sent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) a letter requesting additional guidance to state Medicaid programs to provide additional flexibilities for: providers of day services having to close; residential supports having to offer day services during social distancing; the hiring of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) in times of severe shortage; regulatory and procedural requirements that are confounding their ability to be responsive of the needs of individuals supported.

  • What you can do:
    • Keep sharing with ANCOR what additional guidance you need, so we can continue taking that message to the Administration. We are closely monitoring our ANCOR Connected Communities (ACC) membership discussion board.
    • Encourage your state government to apply for emergency 1115, 1135 and 1915c appendix K waivers that grant greater flexibility to Medicaid programs during times of crises. The Kaiser Family Foundation tracker on many (but not all) state emergency actions can help you get a sense of what your state is already doing, as well as the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities (NASDDDS) appendix K request tracker.

Asking governors to recognize DSPs are essential staff: ANCOR sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA) asking its members to take the following actions: issue executive orders that DSPs are essential staff; encourage displaced workers to apply for jobs as DSPs; and publicly recognize the importance of DSPs’ work.

  • What you can do: Use our Twitter action tool to directly tweet your governor with these asks!

Resources: We are constantly updating the ANCOR COVID-19 Resource Center – please keep visiting it as we add new content from stakeholders, states and the federal government!