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.
Change is in the air as we begin a new year! The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines are finally being distributed – albeit not as fast as we’d like – offering the hope of future hugs, joyful reunions, and a world getting back to work. Along with our valued national partners, NDSC is working on comprehensive, updated COVID-19 information for you and your family. In the meantime, because so many of you are calling with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, we have prioritized the development of a COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ sheet. Look for it to release early next week.
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.
Mission Moment with Executive Director David Tolleson
I’ve never been so glad to see a year end! 2020 has been challenging for all of us, but now a new year is just a couple of weeks away, bringing hope and promise. At the NDSC, we continue to develop and execute programs and resources that meet the changing needs of families like yours. Early in the new year, we will launch our Ages & Stages learning programs with both free and premium options to serve everyone, wherever they are. Soon after, we will host the third discussion on race relations centering on how NDSC and our affiliates can work together to better engage all families in our community.
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.
What a great time we had at our inaugural Soiree of Stars gala! It was a wonderful evening, made all the more impactful by the self-advocates who participated. I’m glad that we had the chance to share stories about our work and am especially grateful for those of you who chose to support NDSC’s work with a generous gift. You are appreciated, and you and your family are the reason we do what we do…and are able to do what we do. Thank you for giving! If you missed our virtual gala, you can watch a recording of the event by clicking below.
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.
We hope you will join us as Tim Tebow, Dale Murphy, Coach Dabo Swinney, Ludacris, Rita Harvey, and Neil Berg welcome you to the NDSC Soiree of Stars Virtual Gala. This event will honor the individuals, organizations, corporations, and 3 amazing Everyday Heroes, self-advocates who have worked in essential positions through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will also be joined by Felicia Patti from the Netflix hit show Away the cast of Born This Way as we catch up on all that they have been doing in 2020.
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.