LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, October 30, 2020


The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Upcoming Series Webinars

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 Heroes

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 Accepting Applications for Phase 3 Provider Relief Funding Through November 6th

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)--Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) $20 billion in New Phase 3 Provider Relief funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic continues to take applications for relief through November 6th. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments may apply 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 are 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 are 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

No COVID Relief Bill Until After the Election

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are now in recess and will not return until after the election, with the Senate returning the week of November 8th and the House the week after. While there has been consistent agreement that a COVID-19 relief package is needed, the Senate and House have remained far apart through weeks of negotiations on its size and key provisions. The outcome of the election will most likely determine timing of a package. If Democrats retain the House and pick up a majority in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi may decide to hold off relief until that majority takes control in January 2021, while negotiations are more likely to continue in November should Republicans retain control of the Senate. Meanwhile, Lutheran Services in American continues to advocate for passage of a new round of the Paycheck Protection Program aimed at relief for nonprofits of all sizes and will join with other nonprofit organizations in urging the next President, whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden, to make relief an immediate priority.

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.


Medicare, Medicaid will cover costs of future COVID-19 vaccine under new policy

Medicare will cover any potential coronavirus vaccine for free, under a new Trump administration policy officially announced Wednesday.

The new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) means any vaccine that receives Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization will be covered under Medicare as a preventive vaccine at no cost to beneficiaries, which is a change from current policy. . . . The new policy also tells state Medicaid agencies to provide vaccine administration with no cost sharing for most beneficiaries during the public health emergency. 

More from Politico

Health insurers are starting to roll back coverage for telehealth – even though demand is way up due to COVID-19

In less than a year, telehealth has gone from a niche rarity to a common practice. Its ability to ensure physical distance, preserve personal protective equipment and prevent the spread of infection among health care workers and patients has been invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As health care specialists and researchers, we have long seen the potential of telehealth, providing health care remotely with technology, which has been around for several decades. Despite evidence it could safely treat and manage a range of health conditions in a cost-effective manner, widespread adoption of the practice had been limited by issues including insurance coverage, restrictions on prescribing and technology access.

On March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, removed many of the barriers to widespread telehealth use. Soon after, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid released a toolkit encouraging state Medicaid agencies to adopt CARES policy changes to promote the expansion of telehealth. Many private insurers followed suit. Collectively, these policy changes facilitated the explosion of telehealth. Now, due to the financial strain on health care systems and insurers, the increase in telehealth use may be forced to shrink even though the public health crisis remains.

More from PBS

Senate packs up with coronavirus relief bill on ice until after elections

Senators prepared to leave town Monday night for their October recess with virtually no prospect of passing new COVID-19 aid legislation before the Nov. 3 elections.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone for 52 minutes on Monday in what has become a near-daily attempt to narrow differences on pandemic relief between Democrats and the Trump administration. But there was no indication of any major progress.

Democrats “continue to eagerly await the Administration’s acceptance of our health language, which includes a national strategic plan on testing and tracing,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted after the call. And Hammill suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has resisted a large-scale aid deal, would need to show a greater willingness to compromise.

More from Roll Call


A Chance to Expand Medicaid Rallies Democrats in Crucial North Carolina

North Carolina, a crucial battleground for the presidential race and control of the United States Senate, has another coveted prize at stake in this election, one that is drawing serious out-of-state money, dominating television ads and driving get-out-the-vote efforts.

Democrats believe they have a chance of gaining control of the State Legislature for the first time in a decade, which would make it possible to expand Medicaid to cover half-a-million more low-income adults here after years of Republican resistance.

The health care issue is paramount up and down the ticket in North Carolina, with left-leaning national and in-state groups using it to motivate Democratic voters — especially those who stayed home in 2016. Many of them belong to the demographic who would become eligible for Medicaid, the free government health insurance program, if the legislature voted to expand it as the Affordable Care Act allows.

More from The New York Times

Iowa Disability Advocates Want Their Voices Heard This Election And Beyond

There are more than 365,000 Iowans with disabilities. Eric Donat and Jenn Wolff, who both have disabilities and are advocates for those with disabilities, want them all to get out and vote.

“Imagine if we all voted,” said Wolff, “and got our families to vote and then got our caregivers on top of that. We could sway an election.”

Swaying the election would enable them to elect more legislators to address issues important to them, such as Medicaid—or rather ending the privatization of Medicaid.

Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income families and individuals, including those with disabilities. Since then-Gov. Terry Branstad switched Medicaid from a state funded fee-for-service program managed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to management by for-profit managed care organizations (MCOs) in 2016, it has been a nightmare for those with disabilities.

More from Iowa Starting Line

Texas: State Reverses Decision Allowing Social Workers To Refuse Clients With Disabilities

A state council voted this week to reverse a decision that would have allowed social workers to turn away LGBTQ clients or those with disabilities.

After backlash from lawmakers, social workers and advocacy groups, the Texas Behavioral Executive Council voted unanimously to again include disability, sexual orientation and gender identity in the nondiscrimination clause of the social worker code of conduct, according to The Texas Tribune.

On Oct. 12, in a joint meeting with the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, the council had voted unanimously to take those protections away. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office had recommended that move, saying it would align better with the state’s discrimination policy for social workers, the Occupations Code.

But lawmakers, social workers and advocacy groups were outraged by the change.

More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

People With Down Syndrome 10 Times More Likely To Die From COVID-19

Individuals with Down syndrome are at especially high risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus, researchers say, adding to evidence that the virus is particularly hard on those with developmental disabilities.

People with the chromosomal disorder are four times more likely than others to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and they face a 10 times greater risk of dying from the virus.

The findings, published in a research letter this month in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, are based on a review of medical records for 8.26 million adults in England between late January — when the virus first emerged in that country — and June.

More from Disability Scoop

Cooke and Moody’s Release Report, Roadmap for Inclusion: Digital Skills Training for Young Adults with Disabilities

The Cooke School and Institute and Moody’s Foundation released the report, “Roadmap for Inclusion: a Collaborative Digital Skills Training Model for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities” outlining new employment trends and approaches to developing or improving digital skills training programs for young adults with disabilities. The report is a culmination of findings from a year-long research project that explored avenues for collaboration between the business sector, higher and special education, and community stakeholders to increase opportunities for employment, particularly in the IT sector, for people with disabilities. It also provides a roadmap for entering the next phase of neurodiversity initiatives through the creation of a Digital Skills for the Workplace Program Model. This model, based on collaborative partnerships between business and education partners, offers soft skills and digital skills training, along with internship placements and higher education course work.with Down syndrome are at especially high risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus, researchers say, adding to evidence that the virus is particularly hard on those with developmental disabilities.

More from EIN Presswire

How the pandemic has affected voters with disabilities – roughly one-sixth of the US electorate

Penny Shaw, 77, who lives in a long-term care facility in Braintree, Massachusetts, normally votes at a polling place she can get to easily in her electric wheelchair. This year, Shaw had to come up with a new plan.

Braintree officials changed polling place locations because of the pandemic, and Shaw worried that her severe muscle weakness from Guillain-Barre syndrome would prevent her from getting to the nearest site. She couldn’t get election officials on the phone to confirm the new location, and she has trouble using a computer. So, she requested an absentee ballot and took it to a post office six blocks away.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” she said. “I don’t want to not vote.”

Shaw’s situation is emblematic of the new difficulties the pandemic has created for voters with disabilities – even as many of them are benefitting from the relaxation of rules regarding who can cast an absentee ballot.

Many people with disabilities, estimated to be one-sixth of voters this year, encounter barriers when they attempt to vote in person. In a 2017 study of polling places used during the 2016 election, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 60% of them had one or more potential impediments. The most common were steep ramps outside buildings, a lack of signs indicating accessible paths and poor parking or path surfaces. 

More from USA Today

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Words Matter, And It’s Time To Explore The Meaning Of “Ableism.”

If you read more than one or two articles on disability issues, or talk to just about any disability rights activist, you will run across the word “ableism.” The word does a lot of work for disability culture. It carries the weight of the worst of what plagues disabled people the most, but can be so hard to express.

But for that reason, “ableism” can also seem like an overworked term. It often adds as much confusion and dissension to disability discourse as it does clarity and purpose. While it gives voice and substance to very real beliefs and experiences, the word “ableism” can also feel like a rhetorical weapon meant to discredit people at a stroke for an offensiveness that many people simply don’t see or agree exists. But as any disabled person will tell you, ableism, or something like it absolutely exists. Having a word to talk about it is essential to understanding it and fighting it.

More from Forbes

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, enCircle

Mary Mulliet
DN Treasurer
Vice President of Community Services, Samaritas

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