Action Required: Federal Medical Assistance Percentage Increase Request

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Last week, we reported that there were no increases or cuts to Consumer Directed Services providers or Centers for Independent Living in the FY 2021 budget. This is still true; however, providers and CILs will struggle to adequately provide services to people with disabilities without a rate increase.

You can help secure a potential increase by reaching out to members of Congress. Call and email your federal representatives and senators to share the following message with them:

My name is ______, I am a constituent in Missouri. My zip code is _____. I am calling today to ask ______ to work with their colleagues at the federal level to enhance the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). FMAP Funding may be used as general revenue in Missouri and could help disabled voters maintain crucial services that help them live independently. Without enhanced FMAP disabled constituents could lose services, potentially resulting in costly hospitalizations that could become fatal during a pandemic.
Thank you for your time.

If you use social media, you can share a sentence or two about how important CDS/Paraquad is to you along with the ask “enhance FMAP so I can remain healthy and independent”. Be sure to tag your representatives, senators, and Paraquad so that we can share!

#WeAreEssential Week 4 – The Danger of Institutions

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This week we are refocusing our attention on the importance of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). One of the most important services Centers for Independent Living, like Paraquad, provides is transition services for individuals who are living in nursing homes or other institutions but would like to live independently in the community. COVID-19 is running wild in nursing homes across the country, putting people with significant disabilities and the elderly (who are already at increased risk) in grave danger.

It is crucial for Congress to increase funding to HCBS so that people with disabilities and older adults are able to stay in their homes. At the best of times, Medicaid funded nursing homes and institutions are understaffed and generally unpleasant places to live, not to mention far more expensive than HCBS. During a global pandemic, the negatives of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are exacerbated; it is difficult to control illness when folks are living in small spaces and employees go from room to room assisting residents. Often people who do not need to be institutionalized become institutionalized due to illness. With increased funding to HCBS people with disabilities and older adults will have the opportunity to remain in their community and stay healthy.

This week we urge you to tell Congress:
• Disabled people in institutions are not disposable; Congress must act now to support our communities. #WeAreEssential
• Coronavirus numbers have increased dramatically in nursing homes and long-term care facilities – over 10,000 deaths. Congress needs to support these workers. #WeAreEssential
• My civil rights and my life will be at stake if I cannot stay in my home during the #coronavirus outbreak. Congress needs to support home and community-based services in coronavirus relief! #WeAreEssential

#WeAreEssential Week 2 – Paid Family and Medical Leave

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This week, members of the disability community are adding Paid Family and Medical Leave to our list of asks (don’t stop talking about HCBS).

Families First Coronavirus Response Act included two weeks of paid sick leave for people who were diagnosed with COVID-19, needed to self-isolate to avoid becoming ill, or to take care of someone who was diagnosed or instructed to self-isolate. The Act also authorized 12 weeks of leave for parents who need to take care of children of all ages who lost their typical source of care.

However, many people feel that this didn’t meet their needs. Individuals who work for organizations with less than 50 employees or more than 500 employees, and many health care workers, are not eligible for leave. In addition to the limited eligibility, caregiver leave is only paid at 66% of an individual’s salary.

This week’s asks are targeted to Congress.

Tell Congress to:

  • Expand Paid leave for people with disabilities who need to self-isolate.
  • Ensure non-parent caregivers can take leave to care for their loved ones who have lost care.
  • Pay caregivers like everyone else!

The best way to reach your members of congress is via Twitter, Facebook, and Email, since everyone is working from home. You can find your members of congress here.

If you have an experience with paid leave (either good or bad) and COVID-19, reach out to the Public Policy and Advocacy by calling (314-289-4277) or emailing Sarah and she will help you craft a story to share across social media channels.

#WeAreEssential Week 1 – Home and Community Based Services

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Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) allow people with disabilities to live independently in the community. COVID-19 is negatively affecting people’s access to HCBS—if personal care attendants don’t come to work because they are sick, and if the person with a disability can’t find another attendant, he or she could be forced into a nursing home, disabled people could be forced into institutions and out of their homes.

#WeAreEssential HCBS Sample Tweets & Facebook Posts:

  • Disabled people in institutions are not disposable. Congress must act now to support our communities! #WeAreEssential
  • Coronavirus numbers have increased dramatically in nursing homes and long-term care facilities – more than 400 as of last week (a 200% increase). Congress needs to support these workers. #WeAreEssential
  • My civil rights and my life will be at stake if I cannot stay in my home during the #coronavirus outbreak. Congress needs to support home and community-based services in coronavirus relief! #WeAreEssential

You can use this language, along with a photo of you in your home or with your attendant to post on social media. Be sure to tag your members of Congress (they can be found here) and Paraquad so we can share your story!

#WeAreEssential Campaign – Introductory Blog Post

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Over the next 4 weeks, the disability community, lead by AAPD and Center for American Progress, is building a social media campaign and rallying behind #WeAreEssential to ensure that disability needs are included in the next COVID-19 response packages. There will be a different theme each week so that people with disabilities can share their stories:

Week 1 (April 6) – Home and Community-Based Services
Ask: Tell Congress Medicaid funding for home and community-based services must be increased.

Week 2 (April 13) – Paid Family and medical leave
Ask: Congress and the Department of Labor need to expand paid family and medical leave and ensure that everyone is paid fairly while caring for their loved ones.

Week 3 (April 20) – SSI & SSDI and the Recovery Rebate #FixTheGlitch
Ask: #FixTheGlitch Congress must compel agencies to work together to share data so that all eligible individuals can get the rebate checks.

Week 4 (April 27) – Medication and Supplies
Ask: Tell the President to invoke #DefenseProductionActNow. There is an extreme shortage of supplies such as ventilators and face masks. At the state and local level, people must be able to access their medications.

Each week, we will provide background information on the topics as well as templates and suggestions for you to use to reach out to your elected officials. These are unprecedented times, and innovative advocacy is crucial to the success of our cause. The disability community needs to be creative to ensure they are not forgotten. Right now, the best way to contact officials is through social media and email.

If you are new to digital advocacy and have any questions, please reach out to Sarah at 314-289-4277 or sschwegel@paraquad.org; we are all learning about new tools and how to organize without meeting in person.

Employment of People with Disabilities

Closing the Employment Gap

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Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, people with disabilities have more access to the community than ever before. However, there is still one area of public life where people with disabilities are still lagging behind, and that’s employment. Read more