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COVID-19 Funding HCBS and Workforce Support
Dear [Decision Maker],
I'm concerned about the needs of people with disabilities being met in the fourth COVID-19 stimulus bill. It's truly a matter of life and death for this vulnerable population -- and the first three packages failed to address these needs, specifically: 1) Increased funding for home- and community-based services. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that people with disabilities and older adults are most at risk when in nursing homes and congregate settings. Meaningful investments in Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) are one of the most important steps Congress can take to safeguard the disability community. The fourth package must fund HCBS grants, such as the ones found in the To Assist Older Americans and People with Disabilities Affected by COVID-19 Act, to support the Direct Support Professional (DSP) and Home Health Workforce. 2) Access to PPE for direct care workers. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), Personal Care Attendants (PCAs), and other direct care workers are not consistently included in the definitions of "Essential Workers" who are prioritized for access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Direct care workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, assisting people with underlying conditions and disabilities with tasks such as toileting, eating, and bathing. Often these services cannot be provided from six feet away and require close personal contact. Direct care workers' work is essential, and they must have access to the tools they need to do their job safely and for the safety of the people they serve 3) Paid leave for caregivers. The paid sick days and paid leave provisions in both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act did not explicitly include all caregivers who cannot work because they are caring for an adult with a disability or aging family member (whose program has closed or whose care worker or other usual source of care is sick). The paid leave provisions did not cover individuals who must isolate themselves because of their disability. Through regulatory action, the Department of Labor has expanded these definitions to include some of these circumstances, but not all. Similarly, in order to access the recovery rebates, an individual must file taxes, which excludes millions of people with disabilities relying on Supplemental Security Income and some Veterans benefits who receive no other income and therefore do not file. Your support in the coming weeks will impact the safety and well being of many. Thank you for your time and attention to issues that demonstrate #WeAreEssential, as supporters of the disability community.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP][Your Email]