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Capitol Correspondence - 04.07.20

Preparing for a Fourth COVID-19 Package: Disability Community Needs and the Political Climate

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As Congress begins to think through its fourth COVID-19 funding package, ANCOR is highlighting essential components the next package should include through our one-click advocacy tool. We are also participating in coalition efforts such as this letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) highlighting the broader needs of the disability community.

Understanding the political climate:

  • Congressional divisions fading away? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) originally sought a broader economic recovery package that would include infrastructure funding, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to keep the focus on coronavirus-specific measures. Speaker Pelosi is beginning to shift her message to a more coronavirus-centered approach.
    • The President weighed in, expressing interest in an infrastructure package, but Politico Pro reported Congressional Republicans received the idea coolly.
  • But less so with the Administration… A new point of contention might arise between the House and the White House, as Axios reported that Speaker Pelosi created a committee to oversee how the $2.2 trillion allocated in the CARES Act is managed by the Administration.
    • Politico Pro reports that “Trump informed Congress last week that he would ignore aspects of the new law meant to require that Congress be informed of certain executive branch decisions regarding a new $500 billion fund for distressed industries.”
    • Additionally, Politico Pulse reported that “the Trump administration wants to put part of a $100 billion hospital bailout fund [in the CARES Act] toward covering treatments for uninsured coronavirus patients.” This is likely to arouse the ire of Congressional Democrats who have been calling for the Administration to open a heal insurance special enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) so uninsured people can enroll to receive care for COVID-19. Note that with the Administration so far declining to re-open enrollment, states have created their own special enrollment periods.

The policy priorities ANCOR is highlighting to Congress during this time:

  • Ensuring I/DD-specific cash flow so providers can stabilize their operations. Because the $100 billion provided for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund does not explicitly identify Medicaid-funded I/DD supports as recipients, it is uncertain that this vital funding will reach the Medicaid-funded I/DD support system.
  • Preventing the permanent closure of programs or service lines on which people with I/DD rely. Day services programs have closed operations to comply with social distancing measures. In turn, they are suffering irrevocable financial losses that endanger their ability to support individuals with disabilities after the outbreak.
  • Supercharging staff stabilization efforts so providers are better equipped to retain, recruit and protect the health of DSPs. Specifically, ANCOR is urging for the inclusion of language in the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act in Congress’ next COVID-19 relief package.

Stay tuned: Please bookmark amplifier.ancor.org as we will be frequently updating our action tools as our advocacy on this issue progresses.