Capitol Correspondence - 01.19.21

President-Elect Biden Unveils His COVID-19 Relief Proposal, Including Funding for I/DD Providers

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President-Elect Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The proposal centers on providing economic relief from the pandemic and curbing the spread of the virus. While we have not listed every component of the plan below, key components are analyzed here.

$1 trillion in financial assistance for individuals and families: The lion’s share of the proposal would be dedicated to giving workers earning up to $73,000 annually a check for $1,400 to provide immediate financial relief. Separate from the $1 trillion for stimulus checks, the plan would also maintain expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance for the duration of the pandemic, offer housing assistance and maintain expanded access to nutrition assistance programs.

$350 billion for state and local governments: While funding to help states and local governments address the increased costs their programs faced during the pandemic, ANCOR notes that this funding is not earmarked in any way for Medicaid. As such, we are continuing our advocacy for Congress to include funding specific to Medicaid disability supports in the final version of the legislation it crafts from the Biden plan.

$160 billion to implement a vaccination program, including the expansion of testing: The funding would be used to “mount a national vaccination program, expand testing, mobilize a public health jobs program, and take other necessary steps to build capacity to fight the virus.” The President-Elect’s vaccination plan, a companion document to the legislative proposal, makes a specific reference to ensuring access to the vaccine for “institutions that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities [I/DD].”

The mention of I/DD in the vaccination plan is a significant victory for the disability community, which has not been prioritized to receive vaccines in many states’ vaccination plans. However, it behooves us to share this caveat from Politico Pulse: “Yet even with the best-laid plans, vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans will be incredibly difficult. And though Biden isn’t backing off his ambitious goals, he’s made conscious efforts of late to temper expectations. ‘This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation,’ Biden cautioned on Thursday, adding that while his team would ‘move Heaven and Earth,’ it will fall to Congress to ‘make all of this happen.’ […] Another limiting factor: State governors, who will retain control over the nuts and bolts of the ground-level vaccination push no matter what overarching guidance the Biden White House advocates.”

$130 billion for school re-openings: This funding would be used to “help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, and help achieve President-elect Biden’s goal to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his Administration.”

We will share more details with our members as we uncover more details in this proposal and as Congress takes it on, as it is sure to undergo changes to ensure passage in through the legislative body.