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Washington DC Update 7/28/21
Recess! Members of Congress will be back in their home states for much of the month of August. Despite the term “recess,” they will not be on break or frolicking. August is a great time to connect with your legislators, or their key staffers, either virtually or in person. 

The Washington Update will, however, take a break during the August recess.
Updates: Infrastructure and Home & Community-Based Services
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (now referred to as “BIF”) is still under negotiation. Some say “we are 90% there” while others indicate there are still a lot of details to iron out. Text of the bill has yet to be shared, but the goal of reaching agreement before the recess remains. Onward!

Similarly, the Reconciliation Bill, which includes the Better Care Better Jobs Act, is also still under negotiation. Reach out and educate your Senators right now as to how important home & community-based services (HCBS) are in your life and those of the CYSHCN and families in your state--regardless of whether they have already signed on to sponsor. NOTE: Although Better Care Better Jobs Act is moving along right now as a partisan issue in just the Senate (remember reconciliation means the bill only needs the support of 50 Democratic Senators to pass), we know that HCBS is not a partisan issue. Take time during the August recess to share and educate.

Ten Ways the Better Care Better Jobs Act helps Older Adults and People with Disabilities by Jennifer Lav of NHeLP provides a great fact sheet from which to draw talking points to accompany any sharing and education you are able to do with your legislators during the August recess.
31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act!
Although the actual anniversary was Monday, July 26, 2021, the power, promise, and future of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be heralded daily. This Administration for Community Living (ACL) webpage has an amazing collection of blogs, facts sheets, and more to commemorate the anniversary and to be used throughout the year to promote the law. You can find info on the ADA in education, early childhood, housing, and employment, as well as the basics of ADA and how a variety of people have experienced the impacts of the law throughout their life.

“I am a brown, disabled, adopted scholar-activist”:  In an ACL blog postDr. Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Director of ACL's National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), reflects on the intersections of her identities and how her experiences have shaped her. She shares her vision for inclusion in disability research.

A Self-Advocate's Perspective:  ACL Center for Policy and Evaluation Intern Courtney Felle shared a personal reflection on the 31st anniversary of the ADA and the future of disability advocacy.
Guidance on Long COVID as a Disability
The Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section has issued guidance explaining that long COVID can be a disability under Titles II (state and local government) and III (public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Section 1557).

The Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy has a webpage with a collection of guidance and resources to assist employees with accommodations in the workplace in connection with long COVID.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (DOE OCR) has issued a resource--Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA: A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families (PDF)--which clarifies that long COVID is a disability and that, for young children and students, long COVID can be a disability that gives rise to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) eligibility and may also be a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This blog post by DOE OCR also includes information about the disparate impacts of the pandemic on students.
Delta Variant, Testing and Congregate Facilities
As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will invest more than $1.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan to support testing and mitigation measures in high-risk congregate settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and detect and stem potential outbreaks. As the delta variant causes surges across the country and vaccination rates have stalled, this funding will expand activities to detect, diagnose, trace, and monitor infections and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in homeless shelters, treatment and recovery facilities, domestic violence shelters, and federal, state and local correctional facilities. The money focused on congregate facilities will be administered in partnership between HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more details, read the full press release here.
Educate Eligible Immigrants About Medicaid Coverage
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an informational bulletin to states’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies reaffirming that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule – “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” – is no longer in effect and states should encourage their eligible immigrant populations to access public benefits related to health and housing. 
More on Closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap:
Black Maternal Health
Policymakers are paying long-overdue attention to reducing high and increasing rates of deaths and severe health complications among Black people who give birth. Comprehensively addressing this challenge and the broader maternal health crisis requires making a continuum of high-quality health coverage, health care, and other services accessible before, during, and after pregnancy. But the Medicaid “coverage gap” — in which adults with low incomes have no pathway to affordable coverage because their state is one of 12 that has refused to expand Medicaid — puts continuous health coverage out of reach for over 800,000 women of reproductive age. If federal policymakers close the coverage gap in forthcoming recovery legislation, all women of reproductive age with incomes below the poverty line can get affordable coverage whether they are pregnant or not.

Summer Sprint to Coverage
For those who are uninsured, there is still time to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. As of July 1 (as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act), people who have received Unemployment Compensation for at least one week in 2021 can find a health plan with a $0 monthly premium and reduced out-of-pocket costs for the rest of the year. This special enrollment period, called the “summer sprint,” is taking place July 15 to August 15.

New materials to promote and facilitate the summer sprint can be found at www.healthcare.gov or below:

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Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families--including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity--in order to improve healthcare services and policies for children.