Thank you to everyone who attended the 49th Annual NDSC Convention! The Policy Team was busy with our Annual Advocacy Training Boot Camp as well as two other workshop sessions:
What’s Happening in D.C. & What You Can Do, was presented by Stephanie Smith Lee and Ricki Sabia. Stephanie Smith Lee, Debra Hart of Think College, Destination Dawgs graduate Marina Martinez and her Mother Zoila Martinez presented the session Introduction to Inclusive Higher Education
The Advocacy Training Boot Camp had over 350 live participants from all over the country! Topics included: Untangling the Legislative Process, Engaging with Elected Officials, A One-Pager Demo, Mock Legislator Meeting, Social Media Tips, and more!
Kick-off the NDSC Convention with the 4th Annual Advocacy Training Boot CampThe NDSC 49th Annual Convention will kick off with the 4th NDSC Advocacy Training Boot Camp. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced in your advocacy journey, this three-hour boot camp will give you the tools you need to be an effective advocate. Designed to be an advocacy mini-course with a focus on legislative advocacy, participants will leave energized and with new tools for their advocacy toolbox. The virtual NDSC Advocacy Training Boot Camp is included with all General Conference and Youth & Adults Conference registrations, with no additional registration or RSVP required. The boot camp will feature self-advocates who are making a difference through their personal advocacy efforts, sibling advocates, parent advocates, a State Representative, a State Senator, and the expert NDSC Policy & Advocacy Team.
NDSC 4th Advocacy Training Boot Camp Included with NDSC Convention Registration
This NDSC 49th Annual Convention will again include the NDSC Advocacy Training Boot Camp. This 3-hour session is designed to be an advocacy mini-course with a focus on legislative advocacy. Whether you are a beginner to advocacy or are an experienced advocate, you will walk away with something new and be energized after this session.
Increased COVID-19 Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities
On March 29, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced $100 million in state and local grants to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccines for people with disabilities. This funding will be used to deal with the significant barriers to vaccination that people with disabilities are facing and will be used to provide assistance with scheduling vaccination appointments, direct support services to attend these appointments, education about the importance of receiving the vaccine, transportation to vaccination sites, and connecting people with disabilities to in-home vaccination options, and a national hotline. For vaccine resources relating to people with disabilities, see ACL’s COVID webpages as well as the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities.
Great news! Congress passed, and President Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that finally addresses the major priorities of the disability community. Thank you for your calls, tweets, and emails; for responding to our Action Alerts, sharing your personal stories, and all other actions taken over the past year to educate lawmakers about the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on people with disabilities. Your work was imperative for the inclusion of our concerns in COVID-19 relief funding and supports. Advocacy works!
Congress is currently negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package through the budget reconciliation process, allowing lawmakers to pass a relief package with only a simple majority. This process does not allow for policy changes but does allow increases to existing funding lines. We were pleased to see a 7.35% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) bump for Medicaid to support HCBS included in the House Energy & Commerce Committee mark-up of the COVID-19 relief budget reconciliation bill; the House Budget Committee is completing their own markup now, and then the entire budget package will be brought to the House floor for a vote.
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be inaugurated, marking the official beginning of the Biden Administration. The Biden Transition Team has been preparing for months, putting forth a comprehensive list of nominees for key cabinet and appointee posts, some of whom now need to be confirmed by the Senate in order to officially begin working. NDSC has been engaged with some of the Biden transition teams to help set policy priorities and plan for the Administration change.
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.