The Arc is pleased that Congress is
recognizing the unique and vital needs that people with disabilities have when
facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency relief bill introduced in the U.S. House
of Representatives today includes important and specific measures that would help
mitigate the potentially catastrophic impacts of the novel coronavirus on millions
of people with disabilities.

As we grow increasingly
concerned over the threat of COVID-19 to people with disabilities, their
families, and the workforce that supports them, we are encouraged that the
House bill includes increased federal reimbursement for state Medicaid programs,
which will help the uninsured gain access to COVID-19 testing, emergency
requirements for all health insurers to cover testing, expanded nutrition
assistance, and paid sick days and paid leave.

We are glad to see that
the paid sick time and paid leave provision could be used to care for loved
ones who are “otherwise in need of care.” That would cover workers who take
time off to care for a loved one with a disability who has lost their primary
source of care due to the new coronavirus.

As the legislation moves through Congress, we are advocating for specific funding to support the direct support professional workforce that supports people with disabilities, whose wages largely come from Medicaid, and that they are covered by both paid sick days and paid leave policies put in place by this legislation. Further, people with disabilities must be able to have access to a 90-day supply of medication and medical supply re-fills.

“This bill addresses many of the needs
of people with disabilities in this global crisis. As the coronavirus relief bill
moves through Congress, the paid sick days and paid
leave policy must include funding to cover our direct support workforce,” said
Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc. “We fear that without appropriate action by Congress
and President Trump, the coronavirus pandemic could lead to further
exacerbation of the workforce crisis and the unnecessary placement of people
with disabilities and aging adults into institutions and other congregate
settings in violation of their rights and posing risk to their health.”

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