Jamey Helgeson: Tell Congress to pass COVID-19 relief now!

Published 6:30 am Saturday, November 21, 2020

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It’s been months since Congress last passed pandemic relief legislation and we need action now that includes people with disabilities and those who support them!

The critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce must be included in the next coronavirus relief bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in May, and again in September, that included many of our top asks, but the bills that have been introduced and voted on in the Senate have NOT addressed most of the critical needs of people with disabilities!

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Your senators and representatives need to hear from you so that these and other important provisions remain in the bill that ultimately passes:

• Dedicated funding for Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS). These funds are necessary to serve people with disabilities in their homes and communities and will provide better wages and support for the DSP workforce. Access to HCBS will limit the risk of people with disabilities being put in institutions. State systems are already facing large cuts across the country making these federal dollars more important than ever.

• Personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals. This is urgently needed to protect the health and safety of this critical workforce. DSPs must be designated as essential workers so that they can get access to the PPE and medical supplies they need.

• Paid leave for all caregivers. As more people with disabilities lose their usual sources of care, family caregivers are scrambling and need access to paid leave and sick days to help their loved ones. Congress should include all family caregivers in the emergency paid leave provisions.

• Automatic waivers for Social Security COVID overpayments. Because of delays at the Social Security Administration, many people with disabilities face overpayments that are no fault of their own. These overpayments should be automatically waived. Without automatic waivers, beneficiaries face complex paperwork or benefit cuts.

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LIFE Mower County has been a recipient of these funds that helps provide Advocacy and Family Supports, Our Place Recreation Center, and Special Olympics. You can learn more about the United Way of Mower County by visiting their website at www.uwmower.org. The United Way is located 111 N Main St No. 202 in Austin.

Thank you United Way of Mower County for supporting LIFE Mower County!

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