LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, October 23, 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

Oct. 29, 1–2 p.m. EDT: Engagement Technology — What Happens When You Pair Technology and Creative Leadership

See how the pairing of technology and creative leadership can lead to successful outcomes and improve the quality of life for everyone involved. Hear from two peer leaders — Tacoma Lutheran’s Kevin McFeely and Wellspring Lutheran Services’ David Gehm — on their organizations’ innovative technologies and the evolving ways they help keep residents and families connected in the virtual world. Register here.

Dec. 2, 1–2 p.m. EST: Book Launch with LSA’s own Héctor Colón — “From Boxing Ring to Boardroom: 5 Essential Virtues for Life and Leadership”

Join us as we hear from Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan’s president and CEO, Hector Colón, about his experiences overcoming adversity to achieve personal and professional success in international boxing and as a nonprofit leader, as discussed in his book, “From Boxing Ring to Boardroom: 5 Essential Virtues for Life and Leadership.” Register 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

Much Activity But no Real Progress Toward Passage of a COVID Relief Bill Before Election

The Senate was unable to pass a bill on October 20th to extend the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the following day failed to move forward a broader $500 billion COVID relief package aimed at enhanced unemployment benefits, allocated funding for testing and vaccine development and school assistance.  The PPP measure capped employer eligibility to those with 500 or fewer employees for first time loans and 300 for second loans.  Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is signaling that the Trump Administration is close to reaching an agreement with House Democrats on a package.  However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the latest White House offer of $1.8 trillion in relief and the $2.2 House-passed package would not likely garner enough support from Republicans to pass in the Senate.  Given the continued wide gap between the House and Senate packages and that the Senate remains focused on confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Congressional COVID relief remains unlikely until after the November election.  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.

Join us in urging lawmakers to provide additional nonprofit relief NOW by clicking here.

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.


CDC expands definition of ‘close contacts,’ after study suggests Covid-19 can be passed in brief interactions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday expanded how it defines a “close contact” of someone with Covid-19 as it released new evidence showing the coronavirus can be passed during relatively brief interactions.

Previously, the CDC described a close contact as someone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious. Now, the agency says it’s someone who spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious over 24 hours, even if the time isn’t consecutive, according to an agency spokesperson.

Close contacts are those who are tracked down during contact tracing and are recommended to quarantine.

More from STAT

SSI, Social Security Benefits Will Increase In 2021

People with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income and other Social Security benefits will soon see their payments rise.

The Social Security Administration said this week that benefits will increase 1.3 percent in 2021.

The change comes as a result of an annual automatic cost-of-living adjustment, known as COLA, that’s tied to inflation. By law, Social Security benefits go up when there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More from Disability Scoop

Most Home Health Aides ‘Can’t Afford Not to Work’ — Even When Lacking PPE

In March, Sue Williams-Ward took a new job, with a $1-an-hour raise.

The employer, a home health care agency called Together We Can, was paying a premium — $13 an hour — after it started losing aides when COVID-19 safety concerns mounted.

Williams-Ward, a 68-year-old Indianapolis native, was a devoted caregiver who bathed, dressed and fed clients as if they were family. She was known to entertain clients with some of her own 26 grandchildren, even inviting her clients along on charitable deliveries of Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams.

Without her, the city’s most vulnerable would have been “lost, alone or mistreated,” said her husband, Royal Davis.

Despite her husband’s fears for her health, Williams-Ward reported to work on March 16 at an apartment with three elderly women. One was blind, one was wheelchair-bound, and the third had a severe mental illness. None had been diagnosed with COVID-19 but, Williams-Ward confided in Davis, at least one had symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath, now associated with the virus.

More from KHN

McConnell warns White House against making stimulus deal as Pelosi and Mnuchin inch closer

Prospects for an economic relief package in the next two weeks dimmed markedly on Tuesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed that he has warned the White House not to strike an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election.

In remarks at a closed-door Senate GOP lunch, McConnell told his colleagues that Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and that any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week. Republicans have voiced concerns that a stimulus deal could splinter the party and exacerbate divisions at a time when they are trying to rally behind the Supreme Court nominee. The comments were confirmed by three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them.

More from The Washington Post


In Georgia Governor Kemp’s health care waivers win federal approval

Under plans greenlighted Thursday by the Trump administration, thousands of Georgia’s poor and uninsured adults who meet a work or activity requirement will soon be eligible for Medicaid, with perhaps 50,000 added to the rolls within two years — if the plans pass legal muster. 

Within three years, hundreds of thousands of Georgians with individual health insurance plans may see noticeable drops in their premiums: 25% or more for higher-income rural residents, perhaps 4% for Atlantans.

At the same time, the 400,000 Georgians who bought individual health insurance plans on the federal Affordable Care Act shopping website will find they can’t do that anymore. Instead they will be directed to contact information for private brokers or insurance companies.

More from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Nebraska gets federal approval to limit Medicaid benefits, but challenge in court is likely

Nebraska got federal approval Tuesday to implement a two-tiered system of benefits for most Medicaid expansion patients.

The announcement means that low-income, working age adults will have to meet special requirements to get dental, vision and over-the-counter medication, which are automatically part of traditional Medicaid. Those benefits will not be available for at least another year.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, appearing online, joined Gov. Pete Ricketts at a press conference to sign the letter of approval for Nebraska to waive traditional Medicaid regulations.

More from Omaha World-Herald

Research & Reports

The Neglect of Disability Care: Home care workers and unpaid caregivers who support disabled people are often left out of public-policy initiatives.

Alice (not her full name) has been a direct-support professional for 12 years. Direct-support professionals are paid caregivers who support disabled people, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Alice describes herself as “Hispanic, originally from Texas,” and she currently lives in Ohio. By her own reckoning, since the pandemic began, she has been working 80 hours a week, helping her clients use the bathroom, shower, and otherwise go about their daily lives. “I have to cover hours that are not covered by other staff,” she explained over instant messaging. Alice makes $11.75 an hour, but gets paid time and a half for overtime, at least. She has also been receiving “hero pay,” which is just a couple of extra dollars per hour. She doesn’t know how long that will last. When asked about unionization, Alice replied, “I don’t know what that is.”

Alice’s experience is shockingly typical. According to a recent report from the ANCOR Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy, 43.8 percent of all direct-support staff quit within a year. In every interview conducted for this piece, it seems that this problem has only worsened in the pandemic. As schools closed and coronavirus spread, workers scrambled to organize adequate child care, or were afraid of contracting the virus and sickening their own vulnerable family members. Care work is intimate. It’s not a job where one can reasonably keep social distance. Already high, attrition seems to have only accelerated.

More from The American Prospect

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Applying for PPP Forgiveness? Here Are Some Things to Know

U.S. lenders issued more than five million forgivable loans through the federal government’s coronavirus aid initiative for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program. The Small Business Administration in August started accepting applications to have the loans forgiven, and it began approving them this month. Here are some things to know. 

More from The Wall Street Journal

It's time to end employment discrimination for people with disabilities

Today, 61 million adult Americans live with some type of disability. More significantly, this cohort is growing; anyone can acquire a disability as a result of health issues, accidents, injuries or the normal wear and tear of aging. A chilling proof point is the Social Security Administration’s 2019 Fact Sheet that estimates 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will have a temporary or permanent brush with disability by age 67.

Yet there are a significant number of Americans with disabilities who need — and want — to work. If anything, the pandemic has shown us how important work is to our behavioral health and mental well-being. Yet in spite of the 30-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, only 19 percent of people with disabilities are currently employed compared to 66 percent of the non-disabled population.

More from The Hill

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
Dates 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