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Advocacy Bulletin for June 16th & How You Can Help

June 16, 2020

Over the last several months, Congress passed multiple bills that protect American workers and families, sustain small businesses, boost unemployment benefits, and support our hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines. But that support means little if monies and resources aren’t getting into the hands of important organizations like Ability Beyond, which provides Home and Community Based support to your loved ones. 

There are two important advocacy efforts we need your help with:

  1. Urging the Senate to vote and pass The Heroes Act, and

  2. Request that our State and Federal elected officials recognize that Direct Support Professionals are not just essential, but essential HEALTH workers.

About The Heroes Act

Passed by the House of Representatives on May 15, some believe The Heroes Act is a done deal, but there is more work to be done. So far, Senate Leadership has not offered or even contemplated basic supplemental assistance for large nonprofits.  Federal stimulus programs so far have excluded non-profits with more than 500 employees thereby making Ability Beyond ineligible for funding.

The Heroes Act, if passed, will expand the Paycheck Protection Plan to non-profits of all sizes, removing the 500 employee cap, and will set aside a percentage of the monies for large nonprofits like Ability Beyond.  It represents a good faith offer to provide much-needed relief for distressed state and local governments, protections and rewards for essential workers, expanded support for small businesses and non-profits, and assistance for vulnerable Americans.

Please share your story with our Senators – it’s the only way we will get our voices heard in Washington.  This bill will:

  • Eliminate out-of-pocket requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries who need to be treated for the virus.

  • Increase the federal share of Medicaid home and community-based services.

  • Add $175 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to reimburse health care related expenses for community care providers, such as Ability Beyond.

Please take a minute to read more about The Heroes Act here on the Council for Nonprofits website: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/trends-policy-issues/review-and-recap-of-nonprofit-provisions-the-heroes-act

 Essential Health Workers Designation

As family members, you know best of all that Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are essential to ensuring the health and safety of the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities they support. They are “essential staff” all the time, especially during a global health pandemic.

As states distribute PPE to health providers and issue ordinances to ensure as many people as possible stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all include exemptions for workers who are considered “essential”—nurses, doctors, law enforcement officers, etc. Direct Support Professionals are not often thought of as front line health workers, but you know as well as anyone that DSPs are truly life-sustaining professionals.

Our professional association, ANCOR is urging DSPs, provider organizations, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other interested advocates to Tweet at their Governors with a letter ANCOR wrote to the National Governors Association. This letter urges governors to classify direct support workers as “essential staff,” to encourage displaced workers from other industries to consider careers as direct support professionals, and to issue public acknowledgment for the important and essential work that DSPs do.

Please take a minute to read more here, or to utilize ANCOR’s “amplifier” tool to Tweet your Governor:  https://www.ancor.org/amplifier

How You Can Help

Please write or call your Senator, ask them to build on the House of Representatives’ progress and to vote and pass The Heroes Act to provide further assistance to reflect the scope and duration of the pandemic. 

Find and contact your Senators here:

In Connecticut: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information

In New York:  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/NY

Please contact your Governor and other State officials to request that Direct Care Providers be recognized as essential health  Utilize the ANCOR “amplifier” link above to Tweet, or contact your Governor at the following links:

In Connecticut, contact Governor Ned Lamott: https://Email-Governor-Lamont

In New York, contact Governor Andrew Coumo:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/contact

As always, Ability Beyond remains committed to keeping you informed about the latest developments related to COVID-19, and will keep you apprised of future opportunities to lend your voice to our advocacy efforts.

On behalf of everyone we serve today and anticipate providing services to in our future, thank you.

Join our weekly update to families tonight, June 16th at 7 PM for the latest developments at Ability Beyond and our COVID-19 response plan. Again this week, we will be taking questions via the Zoom Chat feature, and will answer as many questions as we can following the presentation. A…
If you were unable to join our weekly update to families on Tuesday, June 23rd you may use the link below to access a recording of the presentation and Q&A in Zoom. Click here for the recorded meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/69N5MpWt0V9IWrP_6W_DS6x5OtymX6a82nJL8_UFzkYy_cC7uA2WezKE-sBQrq-D   Stay safe, stay healthy, and feel free to send your…