LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, October 16, 2020


Registration for CEO Summit Series: 2020–2021 Now Open

CEO Summit is going virtual this year, and while we will miss seeing you in person, our new format offers the opportunity for additional CEOs to participate nationwide, and for us to engage an even broader, strong lineup of thought leaders. With your direct feedback, we’ve developed a series of four virtual leadership seminars designed to strengthen, inspire and enrich leaders across our network with a focus on emerging stronger.

Renowned corporate strategist and advisor to Fortune 500 executives David Morey returned this year and kicked off the series on September 24 by discussing how CEOs can lead effectively through crises. On November 10, Dr. Garth Graham, vice president and chief community health officer at CVS Health, will guide us through some of the most innovative partnerships in the health and human services sector. In 2021, Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will examine the broader trends of the workforce and its recovery. Carolyn will be followed shortly thereafter by Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh and others to share their visions for 2022 and beyond.

Join us in crafting the answers to the biggest questions now facing our entire network. Register for this timely series today!

The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Upcoming Series Webinars

Becoming an Antiracist Organization
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Time: 1:00-2:00 EDT

Hear from three peer leaders as they continue addressing their organization’s role in systemic racism, explore efforts to engage community partners to dismantle racism, and discuss the importance in recognizing and naming the pain that racism causes.  Join Damyn Kelly, President and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of New York, Michael Bertrand, President and CEO & Beverly Jones, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois and Paulo Pina, Pediatric Medical Director, Assistant Clinical Professor, NYU Robert I. Grossman School of Medicine, Family Health Centers at NYU Langone.  For more information and to register click here.

Engagement Technology — What Happens When You Pair Technology and Creative Leadership
Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020
Time: 1–2 p.m. EDT

The COVID-19 crisis has brought to the forefront the importance of staying connected, and the consequences of being isolated. Come see how the pairing of technology and creative leadership can lead to successful outcomes and improve the quality of life for everyone involved. Hosted by Jack York, President and CEO of iN2L, Dave Gehm, President and CEO of Wellspring Lutheran Services, and Kevin McFeely, President and CEO of Tacoma Lutheran, will share their own experiences and expertise on creative ways they have kept their residents, families and staff connected and engaged through the pandemic. For more information and to register click here.

Honoring Our Front Line Heros

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network. This week we are launching a new digital booklet that offers every inspiring entry to date in our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer 2020 issue highlights the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, and is just the first collection in what will be a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find the summer issue and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Caitlyn Gudmundsen ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

HHS Announces $20 billion in New Phase 3 Provider Relief Funding

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has announced $20 billion in New Phase 3 Provider Relief funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments may apply, as of October 5, 2020, for additional funding that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020 will also be invited to apply, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic will also be eligible for relief payments.

HHS is making a large number of providers eligible for Phase 3 General Distribution funding, including providers who previously received, rejected or accepted a General Distribution Provider Relief Fund payment. Providers that have already received payments of approximately 2% of annual revenue from patient care may submit more information to become eligible for an additional payment.

CMS Announces $165 million in New Funding for Money Follows the Person Demonstration Programs

On September 23rd the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding is being provided to help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

According to CMS, this action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.

Advocacy Update

Prospects Remain Dim for COVID Relief Bill Before Election

On October 11th, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent a letter to Congress calling on lawmakers to pass legislation to redirect about $130 billion in unused funds from the expired Paycheck Protection Program to allow some businesses to apply for a second round of funding. Negotiations on a broader stimulus package have stalled, however, with House and Senate leadership remaining far apart on how to move forward given major differences, and President Trump sending mixed signals on what he believes should be included in another bill. With the House adjourned and the Senate focused on confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a relief package is unlikely until after the election in November, at the earliest. Nevertheless, Lutheran Services in America continues to call on lawmakers to return to the negotiating table, urging senators to support nonprofit provider needs in a package now.

Coronavirus Resources

Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have.


IRS Issues Final Rules For ABLE Accounts

Federal officials are firming up rules for a relatively new type of account that allows people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits.

The Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations this month spelling out details about how ABLE accounts should operate.

The accounts, which were established by the 2014 ABLE Act, allow individuals with disabilities to accrue up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid can be retained no matter how much money is saved in the accounts.

More from Disability Scoop

Mnuchin says new economic relief deal unlikely before election, although talks with Pelosi continue

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a new economic relief bill is unlikely before the election, suggesting that Democrats are unwilling to give President Trump a victory.

“I’d say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are,” Mnuchin said during an event hosted by the Milken Institute’s Global Conference.

Asked whether Democrats are unwilling to make a deal because they don’t want to give Trump a win three weeks before the election, Mnuchin replied: “I think that definitely is part of the reality. That’s definitely an issue.

More from The Washington Post


Colorado wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. Then came coronavirus.

Curtis Chong has witnessed a lot of election cycles where voting officials with good intentions for expanding access to people living with disabilities end up replacing one kind of barrier with another. 

Chong, a Coloradan who is blind and a professional and personal advocate for voters who have disabilities, was living in New Mexico in 2014 when he and his wife — who is also blind — were invited to test the state’s new voting equipment. Like the old system, the freshened New Mexico method offered a voice reader for the ballot; once the blind voter had made selections, a paper ballot was printed and placed in the usual ballot box. Curtis Chong could plug his own headphones into the machine. Nice touch, he thought. But the old voice method the Chongs were used to was gone. The new software mushed the S’s and Z’s. If you sped up the reader to get through a thick set of referendums, syllables were clipped and unintelligible.

More from The Colorado Sun

Colorado: Coronavirus Pandemic Challenges Those With Developmental Disabilities

Judy May realized she needed help when she heard her 53-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, sobbing in his room after yet another shouting match over the blue Oxford shirt he refused to change.

May, 80, had been caring for her son for about a year and a half after moving to Hood River from California, and Robbie May was becoming increasingly stubborn. She responded in kind, insisting he do the things she thought he had to do, the tension escalating into yelling.

“It was something in my brain that said he had to have a clean shirt. But it didn’t bother him,” Judy May said, recalling that February argument. “I was the one having trouble.” Hearing her son cry was a wake-up call, and she soon arranged for support workers to come and start helping out eight hours a week.

“It was basically just somebody to be in the house,” she said.

But coronavirus derailed those plans for May and thousands of other families and individuals in Oregon that rely on state-funded services to help support loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The number of people receiving services has dropped precipitously since the pandemic started.

More from Disability Scoop

In Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt seeks to privatize Medicaid, faces early opposition

Gov. Kevin Stitt seeks to outsource care for many of Oklahoma’s Medicaid recipients.

Still in the early stages of the process, Stitt’s push to privatize Medicaid by hiring a for-profit company to manage the program’s spending is already facing pushback from some members of his own party.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is preparing to solicit proposals for a company or companies to take over care for hundreds of thousands of Medicaid recipients, including pregnant women, low-income parents and children. The chosen companies would oversee spending for low-income adults who will be eligible for benefits under Medicaid expansion.

More from The Oklahoman

Texas rule lets social workers turn away clients who are LGBTQ or have a disability

Texas social workers are criticizing a state regulatory board’s decision this week to remove protections for LGBTQ clients and clients with disabilities who seek social work services.

The Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners voted unanimously Monday to change a section of its code of conduct that establishes when a social worker may refuse to serve someone. The code will no longer prohibit social workers from turning away clients on the basis of disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s office recommended the change, board members said, because the code’s nondiscrimination protections went beyond protections laid out in the state law that governs how and when the state may discipline social workers.

More from The Texas Tribune

Research & Reports

New Brief Highlights the Extra Costs of Living for Adults with Disabilities in the U.S.

On October 14th, the National Disability Institute, in partnership with the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare and the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, released the brief, The Extra Costs of Living with a Disability in the U.S. – Resetting the Policy Table. The brief summarizes a working paper also released today providing estimates from four nationally representative surveys of the extra costs of living with a disability in the United States. An infographic highlighting key statistics is also available.

The research estimates that households containing an adult with a work-disability require, on average, 28 percent more income (or an additional $17,690 a year for a household at the median income level) to obtain the same standard of living as a comparable household without a member with a disability.

More from PRNewswire

Medicaid Enrollment & Spending Growth: FY 2020 & 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has generated both a public health crisis and an economic crisis, with major implications for Medicaid, a countercyclical program. During economic downturns, more people enroll in Medicaid, increasing program spending at the same time state tax revenues may be falling. To help both support Medicaid and provide broad fiscal relief as revenues have declined precipitously, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) authorized a 6.2 percentage point increase in the federal match rate (“FMAP”) (retroactive to January 1, 2020) available if states meet certain “maintenance of eligibility” (MOE) requirements. The health and economic consequences of the pandemic as well as the temporary FMAP increase were major drivers of Medicaid enrollment and spending trends as states finished state fiscal year (FY) 2020 and started FY 2021 (which for most states began on July 1).

This brief analyzes Medicaid enrollment and spending trends for FY 2020 and FY 2021 based on data provided by state Medicaid directors as part of the 20th annual survey of Medicaid directors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More from KFF

Federal advisory agency recommends phase out, replacement of federal employment program for people with disabilities

The National Council on Disability (NCD) on October 14th released its report examining a federal employment program long under scrutiny for its lack of transparency, compliance issues, and how it employs people with disabilities.

NCD conducted a comprehensive analysis of the AbilityOne program to determine whether it promotes Congress’ goal of improving employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Though a little-known program, in Fiscal Year 2018 it generated approximately $3.6 billion in sales of products and services to the Federal Government through mandatory contracting preference.

In this report, the Council revisits its February 2019 report on the program, making a deeper assessment of the program in whole. The release coincides with this year marking the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

More from Business Insider

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

How to help people with learning disabilities cast their votes

There are a lot of Americans who find the act of voting difficult because of learning disabilities and their obstacles are getting new attention as awareness of these disabilities increases.  CNN talked to Quinn Bradlee, who is a founder of the Our Time, Our Vote initiative at the National Center for Learning Disabilities. He's also the author of the memoir, "A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures," and "A Life's Work: Fathers and Sons," which he co-authored with his father, the late Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee.

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting
February 3–4, 2021
Details TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Mary Mulliet
DN Treasurer
Vice President of Community Services, Samaritas

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America