LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, January 8, 2021


CEO Summit Series to Tackle Workforce Challenges in Two-part Seminar January 19 & 26

CEO Summit Series: 2020–2021 continues January 19 and 26 with an examination of one of our field’s most pressing concerns: the state of our workforce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Carolyn Cawley will provide insights during our two-part “Workforce: Reimagining Your Most Trusted Assets” seminar about exploring the critical steps CEOs should take now to meet current and future workforce needs, the workforce patterns that are emerging and lessons learned for CEOs in times of extreme global stress, and innovative ways to invest resources based on changing workforce trends. Ms. Cawley will be joined by half a dozen of your peers with first-hand knowledge and experience on how to transform your workforce. Then on February 23, we conclude this year’s series with a thought-provoking look ahead at the post-pandemic landscape and the realities and opportunities that await. Renowned corporate strategist David Morey returns alongside Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh for “Looking Forward: Post-pandemic Realities and Opportunities” to review which market forces are here to stay, which innovations we need to adopt, and how adaptations made during disruption can be sustained. Register here for this timely series today!

Free Online Consumer CV19 CheckUp

CV19 CheckUp is an online system developed to help Americans be safer, healthier, and ensure their individual needs are met during the pandemic. CV19 CheckUp asks users to complete an easy, quick, confidential questionnaire. A personalized report is immediately provided, outlining the user’s level of risk and offering recommendations and resources to reduce those risks. CV19 CheckUp employs artificial intelligence and data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Share it with your consumers and residents at

Announcing Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

We have heard interest from the Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.    In response, Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub which will be updated daily with the latest resources including: 

 Please email if your leadership would be interested in a peer forum to discuss current strategies or recommend additional resources.

Provider Relief Fund: HHS Continues Distributing Over $24 Billion Phase 3 Funding

On December 16th the Health Resources and Services Administration announced that it has completed review of Phase 3 applications from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program and will distribute $24.5 billion to over 70,000 providers. Up from the $20 billion originally planned, the addition of another $4.5 billion in funding is being used to satisfy close to 90 percent of each applicant’s reported lost revenues and net change in expenses caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020. Payment distribution begins immediately and continue through January, 2021.   According the its press release: “HHS is providing more than $24 billion in new relief to more than 70,000 healthcare providers, meeting close to 90 percent of the losses they’ve reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “With the Provider Relief Fund, we’ve been able to support providers hardest hit by COVID-19, including safety net hospitals, rural providers, and nursing homes, helping ensure they can continue serving their communities during and beyond the pandemic.”

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 Chris Findlay ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

Advocacy Update

On December 27, President Trump signed into law a new COVID-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, as part of the fiscal year 2021 spending bill.  The package provides for an additional $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program but is limited to businesses and nonprofits with 300 or fewer employees that can show a 25% reduction in gross receipts in any 2020 quarter.  A modest $3 billion was added for distributions through the Provider Relief Fund, and unemployment insurance relief for reimbursing employers from earlier relief has been extended to March 14 of this year.  Additional, targeted funding for home and community-based services did not make it into the final package, but the Money Follows the Person demonstration program to support state initiatives to transition long-term care supports away from institutional and into community-based care was extended for three years.  The package did not include additional state and local funding, which could have consequences for state Medicaid spending this year.

Since many of the package's key provisions will expire this spring and with a new wave of infections and a slow start to vaccine distribution, we can anticipate that Congress will prioritize passage of additional COVID-19 relief early this year.  Prospects for early Congressional action increased this week with the apparent victories of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for the U.S. Senate.  With their wins, the Senate will switch from Republican to Democrat control, leaving the White House, House of Representatives and Senate all in the hands of Democrats to pursue president-elect Joseph Biden's agenda.  On Wednesday, a day after the Georgia election results, Mr. Biden renewed his call for additional COVID relief legislation in the first days of his presidency.

We at Lutheran Services in America are continuing our aggressive call for additional Congressional legislation to support our members’ business and continuity now and will update you on our advocacy and how you can take action.

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.


Covid-19 Vaccines Have Triggered Severe Allergic Reactions in 29 People in U.S. to Date

At least 29 people in the U.S. have developed severe allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, federal health authorities said Wednesday.

The rate is far higher than for the seasonal flu vaccine, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said. But the severe reactions were rare and didn’t result in any deaths, and they encouraged use of the shots.

The 29 cases are as of Jan. 5 and are out of more than 5.3 million doses that have been administered given to date, the CDC said.

The rate of 5.5 cases of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, for every one million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered to date compares with the rate of 1.3 cases for every one million doses of flu vaccine, according to the CDC.

Still, the cases of anaphylaxis are “exceedingly rare,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who is leading the agency’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts.

More from The Wall Street Journal

Advocates: COVID-19 Relief Leaves Out People With Disabilities

With a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, Congress yet again denied stimulus payments to some people with disabilities and failed to offer funding for home- and community-based services.

Under pressure, federal lawmakers approved the massive stimulus package after much wrangling in late December. The measure includes $600 cash payments for many Americans — including those receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits — who earn less than $75,000 annually, with tiered amounts beyond that.

But disability advocates say that despite months of intense lobbying, the legislation is most notable for what is left out.

More from Disability Scoop

CDC Adds Down Syndrome To COVID-19 ‘Increased Risk’ List

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is acknowledging for the first time that COVID-19 poses an especially high risk for people with Down syndrome.

The federal agency updated its list of conditions that carry an “increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19” in late December to include Down syndrome.

“Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death,” the CDC said.

More from Disability Scoop

Covid ‘Decimated Our Staff’ as the Pandemic Ravages Health Workers of Color

Last spring, New Jersey emergency room nurse Maritza Beniquez saw “wave after wave” of sick patients, each wearing a look of fear that grew increasingly familiar as the weeks wore on.

Soon, it was her colleagues at Newark’s University Hospital — the nurses, techs and doctors with whom she had been working side by side — who turned up in the ER, themselves struggling to breathe. “So many of our own co-workers got sick, especially toward the beginning; it literally decimated our staff,” she said.

By the end of June, 11 of Beniquez’s colleagues were dead. Like the patients they had been treating, most were Black and Latino.

More from KHN

The Permanency for Audio-Only Telehealth Act: A Matter of Healthcare Equity

In our December 7, 2020 Blog Post, “Permanent Expansion of Medicare Telehealth Services,” we discussed the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule (the “Final Rule”) and the regulatory changes made therein by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) to expand Medicare telehealth coverage within the confines of existing Medicare statutory law.  The Final Rule was first posted on December 2, 2020 and was formally published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2020.

In amending the Medicare regulations within the Final Rule, CMS wrote that without Congressional action, it was difficult for CMS to make permanent the regulatory telehealth waivers that the Trump Administration and CMS implemented at the outset of the current COVID-19 public health emergency (the “Pandemic”).  For example, in the Final Rule, CMS highlighted the need for Congressional action to (i) roll back the geographic limitations that require Medicare beneficiaries to leave their homes to receive telehealth services, and (ii) make permanent Medicare coverage for audio-only telehealth services.

As described below, it appears that Congress listened to CMS’ request for help.

More from The National Law Review


Personal care assistants get $14 an hour in Minnesota to help people with disabilities.

For the past 15 years, Antonietta Giovanni has been caring for her son as her full-time job.

Giovanni, a personal care assistant (PCA), spends her days making sure her son, Daniel Petros, gets his proper exercises and activities. Petros, who is 27, has autism and suffers frequent seizures; he requires constant care.

Before the pandemic, a second PCA came to care for Petros on most days, relieving Giovanni from her duties and allowing her to do her work on the executive board of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota, the statewide union. She also volunteers for The Arc Minnesota, which advocates for people with developmental disabilities. 

But in July, the daughter of Petros’s other PCA fell ill with COVID-19; she had to leave her job. “I stopped most of my other work,” Giovanni said. “I had to concentrate on him.” 

More from Sahan Journal

Ohio: Vaccine rollout moving slowly for adults with disabilities at high risk for COVID-19

Despite having clients and staff that are part of vaccination group 1A, and who are at high risk of COVID mortality, United Rehabilitation Services says that less than 25 percent of their clients have been vaccinated and none of their staff have been vaccinated so far.

Executive Director, Dennis Grant, says they were notified on Jan. 29 that their adult clients and staff were eligible to get the vaccine this week, but there have already been a few snags in the plan.

First, the Governor’s vaccination distribution plan says that people with developmental disabilities and those with mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, who live in group homes, residential facilities or centers and staff at these locations, are in Group 1A.

“Unfortunately, for a number of the people, about 35 percent of the adults with disabilities that we serve in our day programming, they are living with family members which is not considered a ‘congregate setting’ and they’re not even eligible for the vaccine. Even though they’re at risk,” explained Grant.

More from 2 News (Dayton)

"We need to be at the table": Texans with disabilities worry changes in legislative process during the pandemic could shut them out

Ricky Broussard has spent 10 legislative sessions advocating for disability rights — more support for Texans with disabilities like him who want to live independently, greater accessibility in transportation and better job training.

Unlike other special interests competing for the attention of lawmakers, he doesn’t rely on a paid lobbyist. The 52-year-old's greatest message is his own. Broussard, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, spent 29 years in group homes across the state hoping to get off a waitlist before finally receiving state support to live by himself.

Because of the pandemic, access to the state Capitol could be limited this year: Many Texans with disabilities, including Broussard, do not want to risk testifying in person. With uncertain rules on virtual testimony, and at such an urgent and precarious time, many worry pandemic process changes could leave them out of an all-important session focused on managing a virus that has killed people with disabilities at uniquely high rates.

“We need to be at the table, from the beginning all the way through the end, because nobody don't know me like I know myself,” Broussard said. “But I’m not going to go to the Capitol until I get a shot” — referring to the vaccine.

More from The Texas Tribune

Research & Reports

People With Disabilities View Health Care Access as Human Right, Study Shows

Politicians discuss the ins and outs of health care while trying to win votes, but for some Americans, policymakers do not seem to be listening. University of Kansas researchers have published a study about perspectives of individuals with disabilities on health care policy, and respondents overwhelmingly stated access to health care is vital and they would like policymakers to pay more attention to their needs.

Scholars analyzed data from 35 phone interviews and survey responses from more than 475 individuals with disabilities about health policy. While the respondents largely reflect the political opinions of American society at large, they tended to agree that health care should be viewed as a human right and that feelings of social exclusion and stigma inform what they would like to tell officials who make health policy in the United States.

“We found that people with disabilities are marginalized and stigmatized and that policymakers don’t listen to them,” said Sarah Smith, a doctoral candidate in sociology, graduate research assistant at KU and lead author of the study. “They also felt that access to health insurance was important in order to be able to take part in society and that policymakers did not consider how the policies they make affected their lives.”

The study, published in the Journal of Disability & Policy Studies, was co-written by Smith; Jean Hall, professor of applied behavioral science and director of KU’s Institute for Health & Disability Policy Studies, and Noelle Kurth, research associate at the institute. The interviews and surveys revealed five key themes about health policy perspectives among people with disabilities.

More from KU Today

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

W. Brian McCann column: Va. legislature can give the gift of time to students with disabilities

Benjamin Franklin once said that “lost time is never found again.” This might not be true for students with disabilities. Fortunately, the Virginia General Assembly and, in fact, every state legislature in the country, has the opportunity to prove Franklin wrong and find time that these students lost in the classroom to COVID-19.

I commend the grit, determination and dedication shown by teachers, school administrators and parents everywhere during this global crisis. Despite their tremendous efforts, and through no fault of their own, students in every state, at every grade level, in any type of learning setting, whether fully virtual or hybrid virtual/in person, are not making the educational progress they otherwise would have made had the coronavirus not altered our lives.

In particular, students with disabilities significantly have been impacted since March. How students without disabilities will make up for lost instruction when they return to the classroom full time will be a complex and complicated issue facing all schools across the country. This challenge will be especially difficult for many students with disabilities. However, there is an option to get back lost time for special needs students — expand the age of eligibility.

More from Richmond Times-Dispatch

“It Was Truly Revolutionary”: ‘Crip Camp’ Reveals Summer Camp That Empowered Disabled Kids, Ignited A Movement

Can a summer camp change the world? If you’re talking Camp Jened in upstate New York, a place that welcomed kids with disabilities for a generation, the answer is yes.

“It was a utopia,” camper Denise Sherer Jacobson recalls in Crip Camp, the Netflix documentary about Jened and how it helped spur the movement for disability rights. “When we were there, there was no outside world.”

For their film, directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht drew from remarkable footage shot at Jened in 1971 that illustrated just how groundbreaking the camp was. There, kids with disabilities were treated as people, not as broken objects without hope or purpose. Campers laughed, played, kindled romances and got to be themselves in an atmosphere of acceptance.

More from Deadline

Gov. Thornburgh will be remembered for helping people with intellectual disabilities | Opinion

Articles on the recent passing of former Gov. Dick Thornburgh have sought to highlight his achievements and capture his character.

We all know he was governor of our state and U.S. Attorney General. And he was universally recognized as an honest, intelligent and empathetic leader.

But what’s been missing in these remembrances is discussion of perhaps his most significant and lasting achievement — leading the movement toward community living and treatment for people who are mentally ill and those who have intellectual disabilities.

More from Penn Live

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
1-5 p.m. EST each day
February 3 and 4, 2021


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

Myra Griffie
Interim DN Treasurer
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Services Carolinas

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