A New Coronavirus Bill

Recently, Senator Bob Casey (PA), introduced the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (S. 3544) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives. While other bills have been introduced to provide relief to people across our nation who are impacted by coronavirus in many different ways, this is the first bill that directly addresses the Disability Community and seniors. 

This bill would directly address the needs of disabled and elderly people in the following ways:

Increase funding for nursing home surveys to promote infection control: We have seen that COVID-19 is spreading significantly in nursing facilities and other institutional settings. Elderly and disabled people living in these facilities are contracting coronavirus and dying at alarming rates. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has deployed state inspectors to assess nursing facilities’ infection control practices. Prior to COVID-19, these essential activities were already operating at a deficit and this bill seeks to allocate emergency funds to support CMS and states to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. 

Cover the cost of treatment for low-income seniors and boost the economy: This bill would ensure seniors and people with disabilities living on low, fixed incomes would be able to afford treatment if diagnosed with COVID-19 by leveraging current programs. Furthermore, Medicare beneficiaries would be able to keep about $145 of Medicare premium dollars, helping both the individuals and boosting the economy. 

Promote home and community-based services and protect home health workers: Many states have waiting lists for home and community-based services, forcing seniors and disabled people into nursing homes while they wait. Additionally, many states do not offer paid sick, medical, and family leave to home health workers. This bill would provide funds to states to decrease waiting lists and increase benefits to home health workers.

Make sure seniors and people with disabilities have healthy food and other services at home: Even though the weather is getting nicer, the Centers for Disease Control still urges people to remain at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to stay at home, disabled people and seniors need access to food and services to live. This bill would help states and community-based providers to offer three meals a day, seven days a week during the emergency, provide respite services, and support critical ombudsman programs during COVID-19. 

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.