ODP Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
The Statewide Support & Referral Helpline is staffed by skilled and compassionate staff that are available 24/7 to respond to those struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff at the Helpline refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs. The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600. The Helpline was created by the Department of Human Services DHS and the Center for Community Resources (CCR). Helpline staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals in the ID/A community as well as anyone else who might have a need – teens, adults, special populations and their supporters. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults, and special populations.
Check out The Arc of Pennsylvania's Website here for additional resources.
Updated resources are added as they become available.
Congress Approves COVID-19 Stimulus Package
President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion bill to address the economic and other impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The final bill addresses some priorities of the disability community by allowing non-profit organizations that serve people with I/DD to receive small business loan assistance, allowing direct support professionals (DSPs) to accompany people they support in hospitals, extending the Money Follows the Person program, and providing additional funds for education (which can be used for special education) and housing. However, the bill does not include: more funding for home and community based services, address the shortage of medical equipment or DSPs, or fund paid time off for family caregivers of people with disabilities. Furthermore, while people receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for recovery rebates without risk of losing their benefits, the bill requires them to files taxes, regardless of income level. Learn more about recovery rebates here. Read The Arc's statement.
Congress Weighs Fourth Coronavirus Bill
Congressional leaders continue to consider a possible fourth coronavirus response package and what should be included in it. The Arc's priorities include:
- Grants to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the direct support professional (DSP) workforce
- Personal protective equipment for DSPs
- Paid leave and sick days for family caregivers of adults with disabilities
- Allowing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to receive their Recovery Rebates without filing needless paperwork
- Permanently funding Money Follows the Person
Read The Arc's US blog for more information.
HHS OCR Issues Guidance Against Discrimination in COVID-19 Treatment
On March 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance bulletin stating that health care providers are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities based on stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgement about their relative worth even during a pandemic. The guidance also says that treatment decisions should be based on an individual assessment. The Arc has filed three complaints with OCR in response to treatment rationing plans in Washington, Alabama, and Tennessee. On April 3, The Arc along with many disability organizations released a guide for states and hospitals on applying the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) bulletin on avoiding discrimination in treatment rationing. The document emphasizes that federal disability rights laws protecting people with disabilities against discrimination apply to hospitals experiencing a medical equipment, bed, or staffing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also states that every patient must be treated as an individual, not a diagnosis; and it reminds care providers of effective communication requirements for with people with disabilities, among many other recommendations. Read The Arc's statement.
The Arc US Releases Updated Fact Sheet on Stimulus Payment for Individuals
The Arc released an updated fact sheet on the stimulus payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, detailing changes announced by the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration that payments will be made automatically to Social Security beneficiaries. Unfortunately, these changes do not extend to SSI beneficiaries. The Arc and many other organizations wrote to the Social Security Administration and the Treasury Department, asking the agencies to fix this glitch and automatically pay SSI beneficiaries. You can tweet at the agencies here.
Pennsylvania's Disability Groups File Complaint with U.S. HHS
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP), together with other disability advocacy organizations from across the state, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights challenging Pennsylvania’s guidelines for rationing of health care in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a shortage of health care resources. Pennsylvania’s rationing scheme entitled “Interim Pennsylvania Crisis Standards of Care for Pandemic Guidelines (March 22, 2020) (PA Guidelines), which were developed without any input from the disability community, discriminates against and jeopardizes the lives of people with disabilities. This Complaint follows similar complaints that have been filed by protection and advocacy and other disability advocacy organizations in Washington, Alabama, Tennessee and Kansas. The PA Guidelines can be found here. The Complaint can be found online at www.disabilityrightspa.org. Read The Full Complaint.
Bureau of Special Education Shared Guidance Link on Act 13 of 2020
Read the guidance to Local Education Agency's here. Read a news article explaining the Act here.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATES (From Katie Yost)
SB 327 – is amended to address the impact of COVID-19 on the Commonwealth. The legislation:
- Creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force to monitor and track the response by the Commonwealth to COVID-19 who will:
- identify urgent issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic that requires executive, legislative, or judicial action;
- develop a recover plan on how the Commonwealth can resume mission-critical functions; and
- make a final report no later than 6 months after the COVID-19 Declaration of Disaster Emergency.
- Places notification requirements on the Office of the Governor when statute or regulation is suspended, modified, or waived under the authority of the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration.
- Requires the Treasury Department to instigate a debt cost reduction review for costs and debts incurred by the Commonwealth.
The legislation has gone to the Senate to agree to the House’s amendments.
SB 841- is amended to also address the impact of COVID-19 on the Commonwealth. The legislation will require a report be prepared to provide a Pennsylvania perspective on the effect of the COVID-19 disaster emergency on hospital and health care facilities. It also institutes options for property tax relief, educational tax credit, notarial acts/abilities, and allows for local government meetings to be conducted through telecommunication. It has gone to the House to agree to the Senate’s amendments.
Take Action & "Learn More" Opportunities
Family Forums with PA Family Network: Every Wednesday until May 6, 2020, 7:00 p.m. More information here.
National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals Webinar - Direct Support Professionals are invited join NADSP (National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals) Medical Advisor Dr. Rick Rader for a brief update on supporting individuals through the COVID-19 pandemic. Read full article
The Office of Developmental Programs has been sharing information about how to manage during the COVID-19 crisis.
Modifying Goals and Routines - Some individuals will struggle with the sudden changes in daily activities associated with COVID-19. Read full article
Don't Get Lax: Infectious Disease Reminder - As most of us hunker down at home and may be feeling well, many of us willCHECK become less vigilant with the preventative strategies and recommendations for infection control. Read full article
Remote Supports Privacy and HIPAA Considerations - Under normal circumstances, ODP programs require HIPAA compliant methods when providing remote supports. Read full article
Remote Employment Supports - As a follow-up from last week’s article What To Know About Work Right Now, here are some additional resources about remote supports related to employment. Read full article
The Importance of Relationships - It is so important for all of us to have access to meaningful relationships in our lives during this period of isolation. Read full article
Self-Care While Helping Others - It’s important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as we take care of others. Read full article
Introducing and Maintaining Remote Supports - Some individuals we support may experience difficulties while adjusting to remote supports. Read full article
Sharing COVID-19 Information with Participants: Knowledge is Power - Read full article
What Have You Been Doing? - We hope you are taking some time this weekend to recharge and reflect. Read full article
What to Know About Work Right Now - Many individuals we support are not working or volunteering during this time. Read full article
Supporting Caregivers - It is important to take the time to check in with caregivers who are experiencing changes to theirs and their loved one's daily lives. Read full article
HRST Resources for Providers: Impact, Prevention & Action online training videos - Health Risk Screening online training resources for providers. Providers can find videos on hygiene to promote mitigation, and utilize the HRST Health Passport to assist proper protocols for person-centered care if hospital admittance should be rationed. All HRST COVID-19 Resource can be found at this link.
June 1-2, 2020, The Arc of PA's 2020 Advocacy & Policy Day - REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! Register here. Planning for the 2020 Advocacy & Policy Day is well underway. The location this year is the Crowne Plaza, in downtown Harrisburg. Check out our website for updated information about A & P Day! This year’s 2-day event will include the following:
- The Annual Membership Meeting
- An EVENING Legislative Reception at the Crowne Plaza
- Disability Rally at the State Capitol – Hear Me! Include Me! Hire Me!
- Plenary Sessions: Advancing Employment for People with Intellectual Disabilities: Making Connections for the 21st Century Workforce
- Plenary Session #1: Employment First Oversight Commission: How are we doing? (tentative title)
- Zach Hicks, The Arc of PA Board Member, EFOC member
- Steve Suroviec, ACHIEVA, EFOC Vice Chairperson
- Mary Hartley, EFOC Chairperson
- Plenary Session #2: Building Public-Private Partnerships to Maximize Talent Resource (tentative title)
- Carrie Amann, Executive Director, PA Workforce Development Association
- Doran Condon, Director of Workforce Initiatives, PA Workforce Development Association
- Plenary Session #3: Meeting 21st Century Business Needs (tentative title)
- Gene Barr, President & CEO, PA Chamber of Business& Industry
- Secretary Gerald Oleksiak, PA Department of Labor & Industry
Note: We understand these are uncertain times and will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19. We will let you know of any change to the event in a prompt manner. Should the event be cancelled due to COVID-19, all registration fees will be returned.
Your Voice in Harrisburg
The Arc of Pennsylvania is OPEN and staff are working remoting. If you need to reach us, contact our phone number at 717.234-2621 or email.
Upcoming Activities from The Arc of PA Staff: In the next two weeks, The Arc of PA staff will be participating in these meetings and activities of special interest:
Sherri Landis, Executive Director: Meetings with Legislators, PA Developmental Disabilities/Policy Information Exchange, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, Office of Developmental Programs Technology Taskforce, Information Sharing & Advisory Committee Intellectual Disabilities/Autism Coalition, Stakeholder Reach Out, PA Disability Weekly Conference Call, PA Schools Work Mobilization Committee, PA Developmental Disabilities Council, State Chapters Call, National Executives Call, Policy and Procedure Workgroup and various meetings with local chapters & executives.
Katie Yost, Director of Government & Chapter Relations: Various meetings with the PA House and Senate, PA Developmental Disabilities Council Policy Calls and DD Council Meeting, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, Arc Advocate Network Call, & PA Schools Work Mobilization Committee.
To view archived copies of In Touch: