HEROES Act

All of the work that The Arc network has done since March to show that #WeAreEssential showed up in the Heroes Act that was introduced in the House of Representatives this week. The House is expected to pass the nearly $3 trillion package. The HEROES Act will then move to the Senate where we are not anticipating immediate action. The latest COVID-19 relief package includes many crucial provisions for people with I/DD and their families but it will be negotiated and narrowed down in the Senate. We’ve definitely made progress, but we have MUCH more to do to make sure that the dedicated HCBS funding and our other priorities stay in the bill that ultimately becomes law.
View the full provisions of the HEROES Act here.

The California Senate is Set to Return May 11, 2020

The California Senate is set to return on May 11, 2020. The Senate Committee Hearing schedules can be found here: https://www.senate.ca.gov/dailyfile. All hearings and floor sessions are live streamed, and can be found here: https://www.senate.ca.gov/calendar

The Senate policies and procedures will be similar to the Assembly which was posted last week. In their words:

NOTICE: While we remain under stay at home orders, the Senate is committed to facilitating the ability of the public to take part in the senate proceedings, and will provide safe opportunities for public participation. The Senate will livestream the hearing on our website at www.sen.ca.gov. The public may submit comment or testimony in writing to the committee, or participate via telephone at the conclusion of the hearing, during the public comment period.

To call in during the public comment period, please dial the phone number provided by the Chair of the committee at the time of the hearing or find the number posted on the committee website. As is our normal practice, public comment will be accepted at the conclusion of each bill presentation.

We strongly discourage in person attendance, but individuals wishing to attend the hearing in person are advised that we must balance the opportunity for the public to participate in the legislative process, with the critical need to protect public health. As such, we are required to strictly enforce the physical distancing guidelines mandated by state and local public health officials. Entry into the Capitol will require all persons to adhere to these guidelines:

  • Do not enter the Capitol if you have a cough or fever.
  • If you have had the virus, and are required to remain at home and monitor symptoms, watch and participate from home.
  • Maintain a minimum six-foot distance from others.
  • Capitol restrooms are equipped with soap, please wash hands often, and use hand sanitizer.

In order to maintain physical distancing, seating will be limited. If we cannot provide you with a seat consistent with physical distancing requirements, you can watch on the Senate website. Those who attend in person will be required to follow directions from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

  • The public is highly encouraged to use face coverings.
  • The admission into the Capitol will commence 15 minutes before the hearing.
  • Temperature checks will be required as part of the screening process for admission into the Capitol.

Senators Feinstein and Harris Urge the Senate to Fund Special Education in Future COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Last week Senators Feinstein and Harris joined 23 of their colleagues in signing on to a letter urging Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Schumer to ensure that funding for special education and protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is included in all future COVID-19 relief efforts. In the letter the senators explicitly call for funding both during the shelter in place orders as well as funding that will help students transition back to in person learning once schools reopen stating:

“These service adjustments are not meant to be a one-to-one tradeoff for services missed during COVID-19, but a plan to help students get back on track if they have regressed. We must help ensure that students continue to progress during this pandemic, and we believe that any waiver of IDEA will undermine that objective.”

Read the full letter here.

20 United States Senators Push for Disability Specific Relief in Next Covid-19 Stimulus Package

In response to constant advocacy efforts by the disability community, a bi-partisan letter signed by 20 U.S. senators was sent to congressional leadership requesting disability specific funding in the next stimulus bill. The letter proposes a $50 billion increase in funding for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) programs, paid sick leave for people with disabilities and their caregivers, a boost in Medicaid funding, and emergency income relief. The letter also calls for a 12% increase in the Medicaid matching rate and calls for the permanent reauthorization of Money Follows the person.

A copy of the letter can be read here.

CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMEMBERS SEEK TO PROTECT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DURING PANDEMIC

As California continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic and our state’s budget outlook looks bleaker by the week, several members of the Legislature are stepping forward to make sure services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are protected. Last week members of the Assembly Select Committee on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, led by the Chair of that committee, Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D – Contra Costa), sent a letter to the Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) requesting that the Budget Committee “hold harmless” services and supports and protect people with I/DD and their families during this extraordinary budget process. Specifically, the letter stated:

“Historically, services and support for people with I/DD have been overlooked, with high direct support staff turnover due to low wages, long waitlists for early intervention and other services, essential programs closing across the state, and unmanageable regional center caseload ratios. The state’s own rate study concluded that DDS services and supports were underfunded by $1.8 billion. That critical need and continued lack of funding is compounded by the current pandemic, resulting in greater need for direct service providers and a much greater need for family supports at home.

Earlier this year I proposed a plan to continue to close the massive underfunding to developmental services and implement the rate study over three years. The recent changes in our budget and your subsequent April 6 memo makes that plan currently untenable. However, reductions to the investments made last year to this community – a community that is still recovering from budget cuts made in the last recession – should not be included in this budget.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen direct support professionals answer the call, risking their own health to continue to support Californians with I/DD. Families and caregivers too face new challenges while sheltering in place with their loved ones with I/DD.

If ever there was a time to honor our commitment and obligation to the entire I/DD community and those who are helping to keep them safe and healthy, it is now. We have made modest gains to promote and provide necessary services to this vulnerable population, and any further attempt to erode or eliminate services should not be considered in the cuts that will surely take place in this current budget.”

The full letter can be read here.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Staying Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

There is a lot of information going around about how to stay healthy during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Not all of it is correct, so here are a few basic do’s and don’ts to protect yourself and the people around you.

DO:

  • Stay at home whenever possible
  • Wash your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after going out of your house
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Wear a mask when you are out of your house
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people when you go out
  • If you feel sick stay home
  • If you feel really sick call or email your doctor to ask if you should come in to the hospital
  • Continue taking all of the medicine that you have been prescribed just as you did before the pandemic unless your doctor tells you to stop

DON’T:

  • Take medicine that you haven’t been prescribed
  • Drink or otherwise ingest bleach or other household cleaning products; they will make you very sick!
  • Visit friends and family members in person
  • Go to crowded locations like parks or beaches

This is a hard time and many of us are lonely and afraid. So please DO take care of your mental health. Visit your friends and family members online or on the phone and share your feelings. Read, draw, dance, or build model aircraft carriers – now is a great time to do any hobby that you love or try out something new. Most of all, stay safe!

URGENT: Parents on Social Security Must File with the IRS by This Wednesday 4//22/2020

 

The Department of the Treasury announced in a press release today that parents on Social Security will need to fill out the IRS Non-Filers information by THIS WEDNESDAY 4/22/2020 to receive the $500 economic impact payment per child.

The press release says:

“WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service today urge social security, railroad retirement and veterans benefit recipients who have qualifying children and did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return to go to the IRS Non-Filer tool by Wednesday, April 22, and enter basic information to receive the $500 per eligible child added to their automatic $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.

“Social security recipients and other federal benefit recipients will get their $1,200 automatically, but if they have dependents and did not file in 2018 or 2019, they need to use the IRS Non-Filers tool as soon as possible to input information to get their $500 per child,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “If the IRS does not receive this essential information by Wednesday, their payment will be $1,200 and the $500 per child will be paid to them with a return filing for tax year 2020.”

Those receiving federal benefits – including Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or Veterans Administration benefits – who have qualifying children and who were not required file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 should go to IRS.gov and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button.”

This unexpected deadline is a huge burden on parents with disabilities who are on SSDI and other Social Security recipients, including survivor beneficiaries such as windows and widowers with young children and retirement beneficiaries such as grandparents raising adopted children under the age of 17. The IRS Press Release explains that another deadline is coming shortly for parents who receive SSI or VA benefits. We are registering our concern with this deadline, especially that it is in less than 48 hours and that the non-filer portal has only been in existence for 10 days, with the IRS and SSA and will keep you posted with any updates.

Clearly this time frame is appalling, so please share this information widely and quickly.

To fill out the IRS Non-Filers information visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here

Visit Our New COVID-19 Resources Webpage

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly shifted nearly every aspect of our lives. Just as quickly advocates have risen up to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected, and that we are included in governmental thinking as they form their response to this singular moment.

For all of us these changes can be a lot to keep up with. For this reason we have created www.thearcca.org/covid a resource page for the intellectual and developmental disabilities community. We will be updating this page frequently as our world shifts and changes so please check back as needed, we hope to answer as many of your questions as possible truthfully and promptly.

Supplemental Security Income Recipients Will Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments

Washington, D.C. – Thanks to the advocacy of people with disabilities and their families and friends, the Treasury Department announced today that it would automatically issue Recovery Rebate payments to people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) via the method by which they usually receive their SSI benefits. This change ensures that people with disabilities on SSI will automatically receive the Recovery Rebate payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This money will help millions of the lowest income people with disabilities deal with the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury anticipates these automatic payments no later than early May.

This means that SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic.

SSI Recipients with Dependent Children Should Still Go To IRS.gov to Provide Your Information:

If you are on SSI and do have qualifying children under age 17, however, you should not wait for your automatic $1,200 individual payment. You should go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info section to provide their information. By entering information on the IRS website about yourself and your qualifying children, you will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to you $1,200 individual payment.

Unfortunately, there still exists an inequity for people with SSI who are claimed as dependents. If you are claimed as a dependent then you are ineligible for the $1200 stimulus payment, AND parents who claim adult children as dependents are ineligible for the $500 stimulus per child.

If you are not able to afford internet service at home you may qualify for low income internet service.

COVID-19 Resources and Information

The Arc of California is greatly concerned about the threat of COVID-19 to people with disabilities, their families, and the workforce that supports them. We are compiling resources to help people with intellectual and /or developmental disabilities (I/DD), their families, and service providers to understand this global pandemic.

From The Arc of the United States:

Resources by Subject:

For Service Providers

Healthcare Rights and Information for People With Disabilities During COVID-19

The COVID-19 Stimulus and Relief Efforts and the Disability Community

Special Education

Accessible Language COVID-19 Resources and Answers to Common Questions

Webinars:

Webinars are seminars or other presentation that take place on the Internet, allowing participants in different locations to see and hear the presenter and ask questions. The following are videos of webinars that have already taken place, so though you won’t be able to ask questions, you can watch them just like any other YouTube video.

Miscellaneous: