The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations for immediate, emergency use. Vaccines are now being shipped across the country and given to essential health care workers, with other high-risk individuals such as those in nursing homes to follow.
NDSC has been advocating for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their caregivers, and support personnel to be given priority in vaccine allocation and ensure that vaccine allocation is done in an equitable, accessible way.
Administration Transition The presidential election results will not be confirmed until the Electoral College votes in December, and any lawsuits are settled. However, as is traditional, President-elect Joe Biden is quickly naming individuals, to start on January 20, 2021, to serve as senior White House officials, and is moving forward with transition efforts regarding other political appointments and policy priorities.
With the election just weeks away, the Senate is unlikely to pass another broad COVID-19 relief package in the near future. On October 1, the House passed the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill known as HEROES 2.0 Act, which included many of NDSC’s top priorities, including dedicated funding for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). Negotiations around another COVID-19 relief bill have been on and off, but it is unlikely that an additional, comprehensive plan like HEROES 2.0 will to progress in the Senate. It is most likely that any future COVID-19 relief will come as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushes for a very limited and targeted smaller “skinny” COVID-19 bill to assist small businesses. Such a “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill would likely not address most priorities of the disability community. To see a comparison of the various proposed COVID-19 relief bills, as they relate to disability priorities, you can visit the Center for Public Representation website.
Congressional negotiations in the Senate on the next major COVID-19 relief package have hit a standstill, but we are hopeful that increased pressure from the White House on the House leadership to move on a COVID-19 bill will reinvigorate the discussions. As the days pass, the chances for a standalone COVID-19 Relief bill grow slimmer.
In May, the House passed its 4th COVID-19 Relief Package and the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800), which contained many positive provisions for people with disabilities, but the Senate has not taken up this bill. In late July, the Senate proposed its own COVID-19 relief package known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act.
We Need Your Advocacy Help for 4th COVID-19 Relief Package
After passing three large packages and several smaller bills to address the Coronavirus pandemic, the Senate is negotiating terms for the fourth COVID-19 relief bill. The House passed its 4th COVID-19 Relief Package in May, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R.6800), which contained many positive provisions for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the HEROES Act is considered by the Senate majority to be a very partisan bill, so the Senate will be drafting its own COVID-19 Relief Bill instead of taking up the HEROES Act as a starting point for negotiations.
Addressing Systemic Racism
In response to the killing of George Floyd and other black individuals in recent weeks and the impact of systemic racism on our society, NDSC released astatement that condemns systemic racism and recognizes that as an organization, we need to do more. The statement was followed by a video from Executive Director, David Tolleson pledging NDSC’s support of the Black community, stating our commitment to stand by all who are calling for an end to systemic racism in our society, our re-commitment to serve all families that need us, and for our leadership to reflect our community.
Invitation to Attend NDSC Advocacy Training Boot Camp
NDSC’s virtual Convention from Your Couch has begun, but there is still time to register and receive all of the workshop recordings. NDSC’s Policy & Advocacy Team invites you to attend the NDSC Advocacy Training Boot Camp, a free event for all Convention from Your Couch registrants. Aimed at beginner advocates this two-hour LIVE session, to be held on Saturday, June 27, from 1:00 PM ET – 3:00 PM ET will feature presentations from effective self-advocates, parent advocates, and the expert NDSC Policy & Advocacy Team. Learn what advocacy is, the basics of the legislative process, how to engage and build relationships with elected officials, and how to utilize social media in your advocacy efforts. You will also receive other important resources and tips all from the comfort of your own home. We hope to “see” you there!
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has upended everyone’s lives in many ways, but it appears that the disability community has been disproportionately impacted. Congress has passed three significant bills to address this crisis, yet many priorities of the disability community have not been adequately addressed. NDSC is working with our partners in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to advocate for these priorities. We have also joined over 200 disability, civil rights, faith-based, and health advocacy organizations led by the American Association for People with Disabilities in sending a letter to Congress outlining our priorities and imploring Congress to include them in the next COVID-19 bill.
The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), the country’s oldest national organization serving people with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who work with them. NDSC advocates for all people with Down syndrome to be treated equally and works to create a national climate in which all people will recognize and embrace the value and dignity of people with Down syndrome. We realize that during this COVID-19 public health crisis that the need for intensive medical care may exceed the capacity and resources of our healthcare system. We also recognize that medical providers may be forced to make decisions regarding who should receive care and how much care an individual will receive.