Finally! New COVID Legislation Provides Needed Funds to PWD & Their Families

On March 9, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan — and the bill was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, exactly one year after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In addition to stimulus checks, supplemental unemployment benefits, and funding to help schools reopen and distribute more vaccines, the bill includes dedicated funding to strengthen and expand access to Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS), which help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as independently as possible in their communities rather than in institutions or nursing homes. 

The Arc released a statement expressing their relief that Congress has finally taken action to provide resources for people with disabilities to live safely in their communities with the support they need.

  • Many people with disabilities rely on HCBS to live in their own communities with support, as they often need help with activities of daily living such as working in the community, making and eating food, bathing, toileting, dressing, and managing money and medication. 
  • These services are almost solely available through Medicaid HCBS funding. The system that provides HCBS has not received any federal aid to address the COVID-19 crisis, and too many people have been stuck in places that have been the most dangerous during the pandemic: group homes, nursing homes, and institutions. Direct support professionals have not been prioritized for PPE and supports, even though they are essential workers. 
  • The new relief bill provides a yearlong 10% increase in the federal match for the Medicaid program, which will invest billions of federal dollars into the system.
  • This significant boost will immediately impact people with disabilities across the country, as HCBS funding is critical to keeping people with disabilities healthy, safe, and out of high-risk settings.
  • The new stimulus payments will include all people with disabilities, even those defined by the IRS as “adult dependents.” 
  • The bill also extends and expands tax credits for families who left their jobs to support loved ones whose care and support was interrupted.
  • The Arc and other advocacy groups have fought tirelessly to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are included in COVID relief legislation, as the pandemic has disproportionately affected them and those who support them. 

“This funding is desperately needed by the systems, providers, and workforce that support people with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.

Not least, did you know that the Coronavirus Stimulus Package also expanded the Child Tax Credit?

  • The child tax credit is now $3,600 for children under age 6 and to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17.
  • For the first time, beginning in July, families have the option to receive these credits as monthly payments.
  • You are eligible for the full credit if your modified adjusted gross income falls under $200,000 ($400,000 for married couples).

We’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.

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