Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential


#WeAreEssential: Protecting disability rights during COVID-19 health crisis

Posted on 07/17/20 by Melanie in Advocacy

#WeAreEssential: Protecting disability rights during COVID-19 health crisis

In alignment with our mission to advance a society of equal opportunity for all persons, we at LEAP join our partners and allies in the disability community in advocating to ensure the needs of our constituents – persons with disabilities, their families, caregivers and other community supports – are met in all future coronavirus pandemic legislation.

While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grabbed headlines upon its passage with bipartisan support in March, it – along with subsequent relief measures – have failed to adequately address the needs of the disability community.

Thankfully, because of the tireless work of disability advocates locally and across the country, that trend is gradually beginning to change. But there is still work to do.

Within the state, we applaud the updated guidance provided by the Department of Developmental Disabilities regarding its COVID-19 Standards of Care for Vulnerable Populations, which among other provisions, assures that a person’s disability status cannot be a determining factor to exclude them from lifesaving medical treatment or prioritization for scarce medical resources. In addition, the guidance prohibits systems and medical professionals from using disability status as a factor for determining or deprioritizing treatment or allocation of resources for a person or group of people.

As an organization committed to helping people with disabilities identify and eliminate barriers to employment and independent living, LEAP supports the themes of healthcare, data, and education and outreach raised up in Disability Rights Ohio’s written testimony to the state’s Minority Health Strike Force that addresses vital issues related to health disparities within Ohio.

Nationally, H.R.6800 – The HEROES Act – passed in the U.S House of Representatives in May includes provisions essential to people with disabilities, including funding for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). We join with the Disability and Aging Collaborative, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and other local state and national organizations in urging that the Medicaid funding allocation remain in the version of the bill passed by the Senate.

With the bill expected to be introduced shortly after the Senate returns to work on Monday, July 20, the disability community has mobilized to urge their elected officials to ensure Senate leadership keeps the HCBS provisions in the bill. We recognize the importance of this funding to protecting the quality of life of people with disabilities – and the dire consequences that could result from its removal from the bill – so we encourage all LEAP stakeholders to let their voice be heard by contacting Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.

In addition to letting your voice be heard by contacting elected officials and exercising your voting rights, it is also important to share your experiences during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when given the opportunity. Since we’re experiencing an ongoing, evolving health crisis, the full impact of COVID-19 on the disability community is not yet known. Research being conducted by organizations such as the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) and the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living is helping shape our understanding and, ultimately, will affect policy decisions moving forward.

LEAP’s Advocacy Efforts

LEAP’s current advocacy priorities:

  • Ensuring access to appropriate health care, including long-term care services and supports
  • Increasing opportunities for affordable, accessible housing
  • Increasing availability and access to assistive technology
  • Increasing access to public transportation and transit alternatives

For more information, visit the advocacy section of our website.

To get involved, please contact us.

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