May 19, 2020
Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. Thanks to the thousands of advocates who contacted their Representatives about including our community's priorities in the next COVID-19 relief package!
This $3 trillion public health and economic relief package includes many of the policy priorities advocated for by NDSS, our self-advocates and their families. Specific to our community, the legislation:
- Addresses the issue of adult dependents missing out on the stimulus payment from the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March, and future stimulus payments. Many individuals with Down syndrome are claimed as dependents as adults, so everyone with Down syndrome who is 17 or older (and their families) missed out on these initial stimulus payments. The HEROES Act expands the definition of dependent to include individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities who are 17 or older.
- Includes increased Medicaid funding targeted at Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) – This funding includes an increase in compensation and personal protective equipment for direct support professionals, providing HCBS to those on waiting lists, personal protective equipment for family care providers, and more.
- Requires employers to provide paid sick and emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to workers who need to care for someone with a disability, among other circumstances.
Overall, the legislation provides nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers and teachers; $200 billion to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay; an additional $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures; a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household; and other important health and safety priorities.
The U.S. Senate is unlikely to consider the House legislation in its current form and, instead, is expected to move its own additional relief legislation sometime in the coming weeks. NDSS will be working with our advocates and their Senators to build support for including those provisions of the HEROES Act that are priorities for our community in any final legislation that is enacted.
Stay tuned for more updates! #advocacymatters