How You Can Help! Contact Your Elected Officials About The HEROES Act
May 19, 2020
Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. Ability Beyond is thrilled that the HEROES Act includes lifeline provisions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the Medicaid-funded supports on which they rely in order to be safe during the pandemic.
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their service providers have been the pandemic’s forgotten heirs, and Ability Beyond applauds the House of Representatives for heeding our call for support for these essential services.
At the same time, the essential provisions of the HEROES Act have a long road to travel before becoming codified law. As the legislation moves on to the Senate, our community of providers must remain diligent in urging Congress to continue prioritizing these provisions, especially in light of the exclusion of Medicaid programs from disbursements of Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund resources to date.
In particular, we must continue to fight for the inclusion of the following provisions in whatever form the next COVID-19 relief legislation will take:
- A 10% increase in funding for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), the largest program supporting people with I/DD.
- Identification of direct support professionals as essential workers, thereby making them eligible for increased wages capitalized by the “Heroes Fund.”
- Additional funding for the Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund. To date, Congress has appropriated $175 billion to this fund, but the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has failed to allocate any of this relief to community disability providers.
These provisions will be critical to ensuring that community providers will not only have the capacity to weather the coronavirus storm, but also to remain in business and financially sustainable after the pandemic is over.
Let’s remain positive that the HEROES Act will make deep investments to protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the direct support professionals on which they rely every day!
As the Senate begins deliberation, we’re asking you to reach out to our lawmakers, charging them with the task of ensuring that the HEROES Act allows bipartisan action to get necessary resources in the hands of people who need them the most.
If you prefer to call and leave a message for the Senators and Representatives, please do so. Either communication effort will help all to secure and distribute appropriate emergency funding.
As always, Ability Beyond remains committed to keeping you informed about the latest developments in Washington related to COVID-19, and will keep you apprised of opportunities to lend your voice to our advocacy efforts.
On behalf of everyone we serve today and anticipate providing services to in our future, we thank you.