Public Policy for the People: March 30, 2020 COVID-19 Updates
Volume 6, Issue 6 • 2020 Legislative Session • March 30, 2020
Hello, advocates! Although Georgia's state legislative session continues to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to take the opportunity to update you all on many important policy decisions happening at the state and federal level regarding COVID-19. GCDD continues to monitor the state and federal response to the quickly evolving outbreak, and we are dedicated to keeping you informed.
For information and resources regarding how you can keep you and your loved ones protected during this time, please visit our website.
Letter to the Governor
The Georgia Developmental Disabilities Network (DD Network) partnered to develop a letter to Governor Brian Kemp, asking that the needs of people with disabilities continue to be considered in Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to Georgia's DD Network, 6 additional statewide disability organizations signed on to the letter. Highlights of the message include:
- Every effort must be extended to ensure the protection of the civil rights of people with disabilities, who should not be discriminated against medically or socially during this difficult time.
- We need to make sure that individuals, families, and direct care staff are protected against contracting the virus and against economic impact of the virus. High-risk populations need strategies and support to successfully self-isolate, prevent the spread of infection, and ensure continuity of care. Additionally, it is essential to protect the businesses and workers who provide critical long-term care and other services.
- We need to make sure the service system maintains and builds capacity to serve individuals in the community. Continuity of Medicaid and funding for other community based services is essential to ensure that this capacity is sustained.
You can read the full letter here.
Georgia Submits Emergency Waivers
Governor Kemp, the Department of Community Health (DCH), the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) are working together to submit emergency waiver requests to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). On March 28th, DCH submitted sections 1135 and 1115(a) waivers, as well as two Appendix K plans to CMS. These steps will allow the state to be flexible in the supports and services offered through Medicaid and Medicare.
Disability Rights Protected at Federal Level
On March 28th, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), issued a bulletin reminding agencies that civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, including health care services related to COVID-19 treatment. This guidance comes at a time when disability groups across the nation filed discrimination complaints in multiple states, challenging the states' COVID-19 healthcare rationing plans.
Read the full press release from OCR HERE!
CARES Act Passed
On March 27th, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest relief aid package in our history. The CARES Act is the 3rd piece of federal legislation aimed at addressing the needs of the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disability advocates spent many hours advocating for inclusion of the needs of the disability community in the CARES Act, with some success. The CARES Act includes:
- An additional $200 million for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
- $100 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program
- $85 million for Centers for Independent Living
- An extension of Money Follows the Person funding through November 30, 2020
Although some disability priorities were included, many critical priorities were left out of the CARES Act, which means advocacy efforts will continue to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are considered during this pandemic. We will keep you updated an any calls to action that come up.
In the meantime, you can stay up-to-date on federal legislative activities by visiting the Center for Public Representation's COVID-19 resource page.
Public Policy for the People e-newsletter is distributed every other week during the State of Georgia's legislative session. The last publication date is April 13.