The Commonwealth of Massachusetts continues to face a crisis due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic. We face this health crisis together and we are not alone. This site includes links to important resource information for basic needs, disability services, and daily life among other things. The page includes links for our future and past webinars and updates. Please be sure to check this page frequently for COVID-19 updates.
The Arc's Latest Updates on COVID-19
Leo’s Letter: House Ways and Means Releases Positive Budget for People with Disabilities
Important Resources on COVID-19
Needs and Local Resources
If you are concerned about medical care or paying for health care or RX, approval for MassHealth is expedited.
In March, the Commissioner of Insurance issued an emergency measures order to all health insurance carriers and HMOs in regard to use of telehealth (telephone and video). This means that all private carriers and MassHealth will allow payment for telehealth (and co-pays have been temporarily removed for patients). We previously shared that MassHealth now allows telehealth including for certain long-term supports services such as adult family or foster care (AFC).
- Your local service provider may be able to deliver food to you (see local resources). Family support centers through DDS have been supplying gift cards to individuals eligible at DDS. List of centers here.
- If you need food and are unable to afford it:
- Project Bread Food Source Hotline: Hotline counselors will refer you to food resources in your community including information on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application support. 1-800-645-8333 or TTY 1-800-377-1292 available Monday-Friday 8:00am to 7:00pm, Saturday 10:00am to 2:00pm
The Arc of Massachusetts Resource Sheet on Meeting Basic Needs and Local Resources.
For information on support services resources, check the Health and Disability Services section.
Federal Updates and Resources
- [May 22] The Arc US Analysis of COVID-19 Relief Package #4
- [April 22] Summary of Department of Health and Human Services Items In COVID-19 Package 3.5
- [April 22] Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020
- [April 2] The Arc of US Coronavirus Stimulus Payments – Recovery Rebates Summary of CARES Act
- [April 1] CARES Act Briefing for Nonprofits
- [March 30] The Arc of US Special Education and Related Services Summary of CARES Act
- [March 28] Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- [March 27] CCD Housing Task Force High-Level Summary of Key Housing Provisions of CARES Act
- [March 27] The Arc US Briefing on Federal COVID-19 Response Package #3
- [March 27] The Arc US Recovery Rebates Fact Sheet
- [March 21] U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights – Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities Supplemental Factsheet
- Coronavirus AID, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Analysis
- Additional Information on CARES Act
Special Education Resources
- SPAN Mass Webinar: COVID-19: School Closure and Special Education
- DESE Expands Guidance to include Remote Learning for Students Receiving Special Education Services
- WBUR: As Outbreak Spreads, State Says Mass. Public Schools Must Educate Students With Disabilities
- The Arc of Massachusetts joins the Special Needs Advocacy Network and Federation for Children with Special Needs in a letter to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on the lack of special education services in the Commonwealth. Thank you to SPAN and FCSN for their work on the letter. We will be working together (and with others) to advance the best outcomes. Stay tuned for more news!
Health Care & Vaccine Distribution Advocacy
- March 17, 2021: The Attorney General’s office releases guidance memo on the rights of disabled persons to accommodations during the COVID-19 crisis.
- February 16, 2021: The Arc of Massachusetts releases our 4th Vaccine Advocacy Letter.
- The Department of Developmental Services released a social story on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, which The Arc of Opportunity turned into a flipbook.
- January 13, 2021: California joins other states in identifying family members (unpaid) as “health care workers” in need of vaccine prioritization.
- December 22, 2020: The Arc and a broad coalition of families, individuals, organizations, providers and advocates request a re-adjustment or clarification of the Massachusetts’ vaccine priority for persons with I/DD in DDS-funded Congregate Day Settings in a letter to EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders.
- December 2, 2020: The Arc, CPR and partner organizations weigh in on Massachusetts’ vaccine allocation plans in letter to Governor Baker and Administration officials.
- December 15, 2020: The Arc’s Joint Statement on Equity for People with I/DD Re: COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Safety – Updated December 9 2020
- Guidance and steps if you or your loved one needs help communicating in the hospital.
- Brief awareness page for hospital triage members and other health care professionals.
- MGH: Coronavirus Test Social Story Resource
- MGH: Detailed Coronavirus Test Social Story Resource
- MGH: Coronavirus Test Social Story Toolkit Resource
- Further Triage Guidance for Hospitals
- The Arc joined 18 other organizations on a letter to ensure equity in health care for persons with disabilities during this crisis.
Health and Disability Services
Continue to use your primary care physician (PCP) and urgent care when needed. The State’s main site on the virus and your health is on the Dept. of Public Health (DPH) website (prevention and treatment).
MassHealth has a page on feeling symptoms: scroll down to “Members” and “If you are not feeling well.”
Personal Protective Equipment continues to be in short supply (April 27), but if a family member is positive and PCA services are involved, directions on PPE are here in English and here in Spanish.
Please reach out as you are experiencing need. We list below three main pathways to obtaining assistance:
- Family support centers and chapters of The Arc
- Department of Developmental Services (DDS) offices
Further below in this section we note other pages at the state agencies we encourage you to explore.
- If you or your family member is or has been receiving services from an agency, call that agency first.
- Your local family support or autism support center is another option for assistance. You can use the directory to find one in your area here.
- Contact the chapter of The Arc in your area.
- Contact your DDS area office if you are unable to receive assistance through your agency provider or family support or autism support center.
- If you are not DDS eligible, you have these options: explore MassHealth, and contact your Independent Living Center. If you are served through an accountable care organization, you may want to check with entity for further support or the community partner which serves you. You should have that contact information. Here is a list.
Resources and Guidance from MassHealth, DDS, & Mass Commission for the Blind
- DDS COVID-19 Resources Page
- Rehabilitation Commission offers a “warm line” five days a week, 9:00am-4:00pm. Consumer and Family number is 617-204-3665.
- Commission for the Blind COVID-19 Resources Page
- Download caregiver guidance from MassHealth. Scroll down to “Apr 14 Update Residential & Congregate Care Guidance.”
- MassHealth General Member Updates.
- MassHealth has approved 90-day medication refills (as long as you have approval for at least 1 refill); this isn’t extending to all medications and we are advocating for full extension. It has expanded home health for those who can’t fill hours.
- MassHealth Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Provider Frequently Asked Questions
General Information and Links
- State’s main information site on the virus at the Department of Public Health (DPH)
- COVID-19 Response Center – Dial 211 (scroll down for translation into multiple languages)
- Fact sheet in plain language on health safety during crisis.
- Fact sheets plain language posted on DDS site on variety of topics (scroll down to testing resources)
- Video in plain language on health safety during virus.
- For explaining Coronavirus to children.
- A shorter more general ‘coping’ page for children.
- CDC page on Coronavirus.
- A visual guide to using Zoom meetings for communications.
- Activities during this period can be found through Google, but here are two options posted at DDS and social inclusion options from The Arc.
- State of Emergency State Command Center
Resources for Providers of Services
- DDS Page for Providers of Services
- State Commissioners’ Association COVID Policy Briefs
- Amendment Updates to CMS from States & Checklists
- State Public Policy Resources on COVID-19
- FAQs for PPP Loans [March 30]
- CARES Act Analysis for Providers [March 30]
- CARES Act Info For Non-Profits [March 30]
- Massachusetts COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Command Center.
- Information for MassHealth providers.
- Emergency measures announced by the Insurance Commissioner [March 16]
- Approvals page for waivers. States apply for Appendix K or 1135 waivers for more flexibility from CMS. Visit the page of the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services and see links on COVID-19.