LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, February 19, 2021


Annual Membership Meeting & Award Ceremony

Lutheran Services in America will hold its Annual Membership Meeting and a NEW awards ceremony on March 24 from 3-3:45 p.m. EDT. Member CEOs will cast votes for two member CEOs for the Lutheran Services in America Board of Directors and approve the FY 2022 budget and dues schedule.

Winners of the first Lutheran Services in America annual awards will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting:

  • The Innovator Award recognizes a member organization that is pioneering new solutions, technology or business practices to solve complex issues. This member is forward-thinking and extending beyond its own mission to strengthen the Lutheran social ministry network across the country. Ultimately, their breakthrough solutions are designed to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people and help ensure that all Americans can live abundant lives.
  • The Micah Award recognizes a member organization that is leading the way in its work in addressing justice, mercy and equity. This member’s leadership in race equity, inclusion and diversity is truly inspirational and best exemplifies the spirit of Micah 6:8, “Act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Register here to attend and to submit your award entries for your own organization or a peer Lutheran social ministry organization by completing a short Nomination Form by March 12, 2021.

CEO Summit Series Concludes with a Look at the Post-Covid-19 Landscape, February 23

CEO Summit Series: 2020–2021 concludes on February 23 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 and final installment today!

Strength & Service Series

March 10: 1-2pm EST - Reading the Tea Leaves — Fortune-telling an Uncertain Future for Senior Services

The senior services landscape is rapidly shifting. Changes to federal and state funding and regulations, priorities for health insurance companies, new clinical care needs, low skilled nursing occupancy rates, and preferences for home care are just some of the forces causing providers to rethink their overall structure and delivery models. Join us as Andy Edeburn, Principal with Premier, Inc. gives an overview of current market trends and offers methods for thinking about the future. Register here.

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

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 we are continuously updating.  Here are recent resources regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines: 

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

Paycheck Protection Program Continues in 2021 with New Application Forms and Revised Eligibility Criteria

On Monday, January 11, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal for new loans available under the terms of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020.  Loan applications will be accepted until March 31, 2021.

Community financial institutions, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries, are now processing applications for entities seeking their first PPP loans (“first draw” loans), and second round loans (“second draw” loans) for entities that have already received and used up initial PPP loans.  Other eligible lenders and borrowers will be able to process and apply for loans shortly. 

First draw loans continue to be available only to entities with 500 or fewer employees, while second draw loans are available only to employers with 300 or fewer employees who can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020, among other criteria. 

For more information on this and other funding opportunities, please consult our continually updated webpage on federal relief funding. 

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. We proudly offer digital booklets to recognize this extraordinary work with our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer and Fall 2020 issues highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, as part of a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find these issues 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

In reconciliation, Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives are continuing their work towards passage of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.  Democrats, who narrowly control both the House and Senate, chose a budgetary process known as "reconciliation" to move the package because it requires a simple majority vote in the Senate, and lacking Senate Republican support, they have just enough votes to pass the package without Republican help.  The House Committee process has resulted in a narrow expansion of the Patient Protection Program to allow organizations with more than 500 employees to be eligible for PPP as long as employees are spread across multiple locations with no single location having more than 500 employees. Self-funded unemployment reimbursement has been increased from 50 to 75%.  Home and Community-Based Services will see dedicated funding in the form of an enhanced 7.35% FMAP for states that meet certain requirements.  Other provisions include a $15 minimum wage phased-in over five years, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, extension of temporary enhanced unemployment benefits through August 29, 2021, and $1,400 in stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $75,000 annually.  Many of these provisions, particularly the phased-in increase in the minimum wage could eliminated or substantially modified when the Senate takes up the package.  The House is expected to complete its work and vote on the legislation late next week.  More information on the package as it currently stands can be found here in our detailed summary.

Meanwhile, President Biden has nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be the next Administrator for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.  Ms. Brooks-LaSure worked in President Barrack Obama's Administration to help with the initial implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The Senate will begin to take up Xavier Becerra's nomination to be HHS Secretary next week.

Join us here in urging lawmakers to retain the elements of this package that help nonprofit front line providers and continue to work toward addressing all our remaining needs. 

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.


Senators Call On Biden To Uphold Promise To Expand Community-Based Services

Dozens of U.S. senators are urging President Joe Biden to make good on his campaign proposal to invest $450 billion in Medicaid home- and community-based services.

In a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris this month, 31 Democratic senators said that the administration should proceed with a plan to expand offerings for people with disabilities.

Last summer, Biden unveiled a broad proposal to address the nation’s “caregiving crisis,” which included a commitment to spend $450 billion over 10 years to allow people to choose to receive care in community-based settings. Biden said he wanted to give states enough money to cover the full cost of providing home- and community-based services to each person with a disability who’s currently on a waiting list.

More from Disability Scoop

Lack of Covid Data on People with Intellectual Disabilities ‘Comes With a Body Count’

Peter Prater’s family wasn’t thinking about covid-19 when the call came that he had been taken to the hospital with a fever.

It was April, and the Tallahassee Developmental Center, where Prater lives, hadn’t yet had any covid diagnoses. Prater, 55, who has Down syndrome and diabetes, became the Florida center’s first known case, his family said. Within two weeks, more than half of the roughly 60 residents and a third of the staff had tested positive for the virus, according to local news reports.

“We thought we were going to lose him,” said Jim DeBeaugrine, Prater’s brother-in-law, who also works as an advocate for people with disabilities. “We weren’t aware of a correlation to Down syndrome and bad outcomes with covid yet. He’s just a frail person, period.” Prater survived after roughly seven weeks in the hospital. But five others from the center — three residents and two staffers — died. The center is working to follow federal and state pandemic guidelines, said Camille Lukow, regional director of the Mentor Network, which began operating the facility in December.

More from KHN

Prominent Scientists Call on CDC to Better Protect Workers From Covid

A prominent group of academics is pressing the Biden administration to move faster and take stronger action to protect high-risk workers from airborne exposure to the coronavirus, urging enforceable standards to help safeguard risky workplaces including health care, food processing and prisons.

The researchers say that even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged the virus can spread through tiny airborne particles, it needs to take “strong immediate” action to update its guidance to reduce the risk.

“This is the opportunity now,” said David Michaels, a professor at George Washington University and former director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

More from KHN

House aims to vote on Covid relief bill by the end of next week, Pelosi says

The House aims to pass its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before the end of February as Democrats race to beat a deadline to extend key unemployment programs, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The California Democrat told reporters she hopes for a vote “sometime at the end of next week.” House leaders will stay in touch with the Senate about what Congress can include in the aid package under budget reconciliation, which enables Democrats to approve the plan without Republican votes, Pelosi added.

The party aims to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations and buoy jobless Americans as the U.S. approaches a year of fighting the health crisis. Some Republicans have backed a smaller bill based around vaccine distribution money, but Democrats wielding control of Congress and the White House say they risk a tepid response that leads to more financial pain.

More from CNBC

Biden picks Brooks-LaSure to run Medicare, Medicaid agency

President Joe Biden will nominate seasoned Democratic health policy broker Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to helm the trillion-dollar Medicare and Medicaid agency, according to four sources familiar with the selection.

Brooks-LaSure, an Obama administration veteran who oversaw implementation of Obamacare, if confirmed will play a leading role in crafting Biden's plans to expand on the health care law – and unwind much of the Trump administration's efforts to minimize it.

Brooks-LaSure had recently emerged as the clear front-runner to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, POLITICO reported earlier this month. Her selection was first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

CMS deferred comment to the White House, which has not yet responded. Brooks-LaSure did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brooks-LaSure, who consults with states at Manatt Health, during the Obama administration was deputy director at a top CMS office overseeing the health insurance markets. She had previously helped enforce Obamacare insurance reforms at HHS.

More from Politico

CDC, Ed Department Issue Guidance On Reopening Schools To Students With Disabilities

Federal officials are laying out a roadmap for safely reopening schools to in-person learning complete with details on how to serve students with disabilities.

In a pair of documents issued late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education are emphasizing that evidence shows schools can safely operate during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic if they take precautions.

That means universal masking and social distancing in addition to other measures including hand-washing, cleaning facilities and contact tracing, according to the CDC’s newly released operational strategy for schools. Regular testing and prioritizing vaccinations for school staff also play a role, but neither are prerequisites for opening to in-person learning, the agency said.

More from Disability Scoop


Lawmakers urged to act on expanding Iowa's direct care workforce

Lawmakers are being encouraged to push forward legislation to address the needs of Iowa’s aging population and those with disabilities who rely on the direct care workforce.

It’s hardly a new issue, advocates told a House Human Resources subcommittee Tuesday on House File 402, which calls for expansion of the federally required direct care worker registry to include all certified nursing assistants regardless of their employment setting.

“Year in and year out, the Legislature has discussed the need to build a larger and more sustainable direct care workforce,” John and Terri Hale, whose consulting firm advocates on caregiving issues, wrote to the subcommittee.

However, they said, lawmakers have never dealt with the registries and data collection mechanisms needed to document the size of the workforce, how much turnover occurs every year and why, and the future needs and development of a plan to meet the ever-growing demand for direct care workers.

More from The Gazette

California Extends Vaccine Access to People With Disabilities

Californians under 65 who have disabilities or severe underlying health conditions will be eligible for inoculation against the coronavirus starting on March 15, state officials said Friday, responding to outrage over a recent change intended to expedite the state’s slow rollout of vaccines.

California had been delivering vaccines in tiers, prioritizing people with high-risk medical conditions over healthy adults and certain essential workers above others, but changed course in late January after the complexity of its system appeared to be slowing distribution. Under the new system, the many categories were replaced with age-based tiers.

But as people with chronic illness and disabilities were displaced in line by people 65 and older, the move sparked widespread anger and confusion. Bay Area activists accused the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom of mistreatment and criticized the governor on Twitter with the hashtag #HighRiskCA. California now joins a handful of states offering eligibility to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities or people with underlying health conditions.

More from The New York Times

Georgia: Families fear 'heartbreaking' cuts in disability programs

Matt Gaffney had trouble living in a group home for people with disabilities like himself.

He’s nonverbal and suffers from multiple conditions: severe autism, bipolar disorder, chronic gastrointestinal issues.

In group homes, Matt, now 42, had his medications ‘‘raised to higher levels,’’ says Sue Gaffney, his mother. And she adds that his last group home “dumped’’ him into a state hospital.

Sue and her husband, Phil, moved Matt to an independent home in Athens about 20 years ago. The Gaffneys, who live in Evans, cover the cost of his cottage plus other expenses. The state pays for  support workers to assist him 24 hours a day, so he’s not left alone. These aides help him eat, bathe and dress, and take him shopping, among other duties.

The Athens home helped Matt ‘‘become part of the neighborhood,’’ Sue Gaffney says. He works for a half-hour once a week at a local YMCA.

But now the services that he gets could be reduced under proposed state limits on hours of support received. “We are extremely concerned and nervous about this,’’ Sue says. “It’s heartbreaking.’’

More from Georgia Health News

Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins launches vaccine prioritization dashboard for people with disabilities

A new Johns Hopkins data tool helps people with disabilities determine when they qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine and compares how different states prioritize people with disabilities in their vaccine rollout plans.

Created by researchers, students, and advocates who themselves have disabilities and have personally experienced how inequitable and inaccessible aspects of the U.S. pandemic response have been, the COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Dashboard launched to not only help the disability community get vaccinated, but also to arm policymakers with data to improve the system.

"There's been a persistent gap in the pandemic response for the disabled community. It started with testing and we're seeing it being echoed in the vaccine rollout," said Bonnielin Swenor, director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center. "Being part of that community, we understand that need and want to empower the stakeholders and policymakers with data." developmental disabilities are at significantly greater risk of dying from COVID-19, but whether or not individuals have access to vaccines is coming down to which state — or even which county — they live in.

More from HUB of Johns Hopkins University

Despite High Risk, Access To COVID-19 Vaccines Uneven For Those With IDD

People with developmental disabilities are at significantly greater risk of dying from COVID-19, but whether or not individuals have access to vaccines is coming down to which state — or even which county — they live in.

Disability advocates say that access has increased. As of December, just 10 states specifically addressed people with developmental disabilities in their COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans, according to the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, which represents disability service providers across the nation.

To date, ANCOR said that has grown to at least 31 states.

More from Disability Scoop

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

The Risks of Skimping on Covid Relief

A big tempest is brewing in a big teapot over President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Republican objections are to be expected. But some of the objections come from nominally Democratic economists, led by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. This is a surprise.

The Biden plan isn’t perfect. But with today’s enormous uncertainties, no one can possibly know what the “right” plan really is.

Here’s an analogy. I recently listened to a wonderful scientific seminar. At one point, a scientist who was obviously very knowledgeable about vaccines asked a scientist from the pharmaceutical industry how researchers had decided on the dosage in each shot (which struck him as large) and the interval between the first and second shots (which struck him as short).

More from The Wall Street Journal

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Spring Meeting (virtual)
April date TBA


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