COVID-19: Federal Policy Update on April 15, 2020

In this week’s Federal Policy Update from Policy Officer Ellen Taverna, learn about updates to stimulus checks, the 4th Federal COVID-19 Stimulus Package, the “Main Street” Lending Program, changes to the 2020 Census, and more.

Special Guest on Friday’s (4/17) Federal Update Webinar at Noon!

Bethany Lilly, Director of Income Policy at The Arc of the United States, will be joining Ellen Taverna, Policy Officer at The Arc of Massachusetts, for our weekly federal updates webinar at noon on April 17. She will be available to answer questions and provide the most up to date information from Washington, DC on the 3rd federal COVID-19 stimulus package (CARES Act) like the stimulus checks (recovery rebates) and paid leave for caregivers and what The Arc will be advocating moving forward. To register for Friday’s webinar, click here.

Bethany Lilly has prepared a new Recovery Rebates factsheet in English and Spanish.

Stimulus Checks Automatic for SSI Recipients!

Due to the tremendous advocacy led by The Arc of US and other national disability groups, the Department of Treasury announced today (4/15) that Supplemental Security Income recipients will receive automatic COVID-19 stimulus payments (a/k/a recovery rebates) just as they normally receive their SSI payments. Last week, Treasury issued guidance that allowed Social Security beneficiaries to automatically receive payments w/o filing tax returns, however, not people who receive SSI. This new action by Treasury fixes the glitch for many.

Thank you to all those that reached out to the Administration and their Members of Congress on this important issue! It has made a real difference!

Looking Ahead in 4th COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Both the U.S House and Senate have announced that Members of Congress will not return to Washington, DC until May 4, instead of the expected April 20. This is disappointing as we know there is MUCH more to be done legislatively on the federal level, but it means we have time to raise our voices to show #WeAreEssential. More on our #WeAreEssential advocacy campaign to Congress below.

We have provided a few recent letters sent from The Arc of US and other disability groups to Congress. Here is an April 10 letter to Congress from The Arc of US with ANCOR, ACSESS, Easter Seals and APSE regarding the very critical and specific needs of the disability community, service providers and the workforce. Also included is an April 2 letter from The Arc of US along with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) that contains a longer list of community asks for the 4th COVID-19 legislative package, and an April 13 CCD letter about the importance of the HCBS grant program.

Federal Reserve Seeking Comments on New “Main Street” Lending Program

The new “main street” lending program was created as a part of the coronavirus aid package for small businesses, but currently excludes nonprofits, many institutions of higher learning and minority-serving institutions. The Federal Reserve is currently soliciting input about potential eligibility changes to this initiative with deadline of April 16, 2020. (See April 14 Dear Colleague letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging the Federal Reserve to include nonprofits in the CARES Act lending facilities).

Webinar 4/23: Ensuring Continuity of HCBS During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Arc US is joining ACL and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on a webinar that will focus on best practices in continuing access to HCBS during the COVID-19 pandemic. HCBS waivers promote social distancing practices by giving individuals tools to stay at home. CMS will discuss state options for flexibilities available in Medicaid HCBS programs. Additionally, attendees will hear from states, providers, and advocates about innovative community actions for HCBS waivers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to register for the webinar on Thursday, April 23 at 3:00 – 5:00 pm ET.

New 2020 Census Deadlines

As of April 13, census field operations are now delayed until June 1st and there’s a possibility of extending the enumeration efforts to October 31st. Here’s a helpful document with the census updates.

The Arc #WeAreEssential Campaign Week Theme – Caregiver Paid Leave

In Massachusetts, people with disabilities often rely on a lot of different family members for care, but the paid leave that Congress passed only covers parents—tell Congress that #WeAreEssential and that all caregivers should have access to paid leave. Please use any of the Action Alerts (call, email, tweet) below to reach out to Congress.

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