LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, June 25, 2021


Against the Odds: A Remarkable Story of Strength & Resilience

During a year of trial and tribulation, Lutheran social ministry met the enormous challenge of the pandemic head-on, sustained by our faith and commitment to our shared mission and hope for the future. We thank and acknowledge our friends, members and partners for their generous support and commitment in 2020. Lutheran Services in America is sharing its story about the strength and resilience that defined our network last year with the release of our 2020 Annual Report.

The report highlights achievements in key areas, including our advocacy campaigns, Frontline Hero stories, the launch of bold new initiatives that empower families and close gaps in care for older adults, our push to advance innovative new models of care through the Lasting Change Campaign, and much more.

Experience the story of Lutheran social ministry in our interactive 2020 Annual Report.

Strength & Service Series

July 15: 1-2 pm ET: Cyber Attacks – Are you at Risk?

It is predicted that a business is being hit by ransomware every 11 seconds in 2021, and that it results on average 16-19 days of downtime. Join this session to learn about Cyber Risk management, the latest trends, including the role and important considerations around cyber insurance coverage and top cybersecurity best practices you should be implementing.

Presenters: Rafael Haciski, Vice President at Johnson Kendall Johnson, and Alexandra Bretschneider, Cyber Practice Leader Johnson Kendall Johnson

Register here  

July 21: 1-2 pm ET: Innovations Looking Forward  What Worked & What Is Here to Stay in Senior Services

Senior living providers embraced new strategies and tools to keep residents, their families, and the workforce safe, healthy, and happy during the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many new engagement technology, communication strategies, and workforce strategies evolved out of necessity and have become the “new normal” in day-to-day senior living operations. While the feeling of crisis mode has begun to subside or slow down, what do senior living leaders think are the tools & strategies that are here to stay beyond the pandemic? How will leaders continue to think differently and more strategically – what considerations should be made moving forward?

During this webinar, Dave Gehm, President and CEO of Wellspring Lutheran, and Sloan Bentley, President and CEO, Lutheran Life Communities will discuss with Jack York, Cofounder of IN2L, the innovative strategies that their teams adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they think will remain part of the norm of senior services in the future.

Register here

CEO Summit 2022

Save the Date:

Join us—in person—for our exclusive forum for CEOs with a shared mission: the Lutheran Services in America CEO Summit 2022, in Tampa, Florida, January 23-26.

Tap into the power of our strong network to gain actionable insights, share learnings and innovative ideas, and build meaningful connections, all within a trusted environment.

We’ll explore how leaders are reimagining the health and human services sector and guiding their organizations, partners, and key stakeholders in the post-pandemic world. You’ll learn from leading experts, as well as your peers, about:

  • Expanding leadership capacities to adapt to the new environment,
  • Sparking innovative partnerships and business models to maintain competitiveness, and
  • Partnering with your board to create a more skilled, diverse, and inclusive board of directors.

Stay tuned to your email for more details about the event, including speakers and registration information, in the coming months.

For more information, please visit our website here.

Lutheran Services in America Announces Member Recognition Awards

Lutheran Services in America recognized the outstanding leadership of three peer leaders and three exceptional cohort members with an award presentation on June 23, 2021.

The Beacon Award recognizes peer coaches from the Results Innovation Lab for advancing transformative change for children, youth and families through exceptional leadership across the Lutheran Services in America network. Recipients of this award use data-driven approaches to address underlying racial disparities that stack the deck against children and families of color.

The Scion Award recognizes leaders for their commitment to learning and development in the Results Innovation Lab and dedication to improving outcomes for children, youth and families. The award recipients were selected by the Results Network facilitators, peer leaders, and Lutheran Services in America staff based on the leadership they demonstrated on their team and their understanding and application of the results-based leadership tools and concepts.

Additional information is available in our news release.

Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.

Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub, which we are continuously updating, to assist with vaccine distribution and communications plans of our member organizations. Check out these latest resources including:

If you have any resources or strategies your organization would recommend to increase access and reduce barriers to the COVID-19 Vaccine, please share with with us at

Honoring Our Frontline 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 Winter issue joins Summer and Fall 2020 issues that highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March of last year, 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

Bipartisan infrastructure package gains support of President Biden, separate HCBS bill introduced

President Joe Biden on Thursday endorsed the bipartisan infrastructure bill drafted by a group of 10 Republican and Democratic senators, while also saying he would not sign it into law unless legislation enacting his other priorities from the American Jobs Plan was sent to him as well.  The bipartisan framework includes close to $600 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure projects.  Biden’s support marks significant progress for the package, but passage through Congress still faces a difficult trajectory.  While both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have announced their support for the bill, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not.  Pelosi has further said the House will not pass the bipartisan bill until after the Senate sends them legislation including the rest of Biden’s broader proposal, which would have to pass under budget reconciliation.  That procedural track would require the support of all 50 Democratic senators, and the votes of moderates like Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are not guaranteed.  Likely to be included in that second package, among other “human infrastructure” priorities like child care, paid leave, and housing funding is newly introduced legislation enacting the $400 billion in home and community-based supports (HCBS) that the President included in his original proposal.  Under the terms of that bill (the Better Care Better Jobs Act, S. 2210/H.R. 4131), states would get a permanent 10% FMAP bump to deliver HCBS.  To earn it, they would have to address HCBS payment rates to promote recruitment and retention of staff and demonstrate a strong maintenance of effort so that the new money actually goes to HCBS. 

Lutheran Services in America has been advocating in support of key provisions of the American Jobs Plan, particularly the $400 billion HCBS investment and a provision for $213 billion for affordable housing and homelessness services, and is urging the inclusion of the WORK NOW Act legislation (S. 740) to provide nonprofit health and human services organizations funding to pay wages, salaries, and benefits to retain staff and meet services’ demand.  Please join us in this effort through our advocacy alert calling for inclusion of these key initiatives in the package.


Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure

President Biden on Thursday announced he'd reached an infrastructure deal with a group of Republican and Democratic senators, saying both sides gave up some things they wanted to get a rare accord in a bitterly divided Washington, D.C.

Biden acknowledged the deal would not include proposals he's made for spending to help American families, but firmly endorsed the deal on infrastructure in unusual remarks just outside the White House with the bipartisan group of senators looking on. The agreement was reached after weeks of negotiations, and with progressive Democrats repeatedly calling on the White House to back away from the talks, which some liberals fear could prevent a much larger package from moving forward. Biden said he did intend to continue to look for a larger package on spending through a budget reconciliation measure, which would allow it to pass the Senate with just Democratic votes.

More from The Hill

On Olmstead Anniversary, Murray and CAP’s Mia Ives-Rublee Push for Investment in Home Care

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Mia Ives-Rublee, Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress (CAP), continued to push for a historic investment in home- and community-based services, as President Biden has proposed in his American Jobs Plan, during a Twitter live. The event marked the 22nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which held that people with disabilities have the right to home- and community-based services (HCBS) they need to live independent lives in their own communities. During the event, Senator Murray and Ms. Ives-Rublee discussed the challenges that people with disabilities continue to face in getting HCBS, and the importance of investing in this critical care in order to make the rights affirmed by Olmstead a reality in practice for all people with disabilities.

More from U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor & Pensions

New Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Snapshot Shows Almost 10 million Americans Enrolled in Coverage During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new Enrollment Trends Snapshot report today showing a record high, over 80 million individuals have health coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Nearly 9.9 million individuals, a 13.9% increase, enrolled in coverage between February 2020, the month before the public health emergency (PHE) was declared, to January 2021.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a total of 80,543,351 people were enrolled and receiving full benefits from the Medicaid and CHIP programs by the end of January 2021. In the 50 states that reported total Medicaid child and CHIP enrollment data for January 2021, over 38.3 million children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP combined, approximately 50% of the total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. These numbers highlight the essential role the Medicaid and CHIP programs play in providing quality and needed coverage for millions of vulnerable children and adults. In fact, both programs serve as the largest single source of health coverage in the country.

More from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Wisconsin Advocates: Health budget helps elderly, nursing homes, but others fall short

The state’s health care budget for the next two years has more money for nursing homes, more pay for some home caregivers and additional help for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

But it leaves out improvements in services that people with disabilities and their advocates have been campaigning for. It also provides much less than what the state’s poorest residents, especially Black families and other families of color, had hoped for based on the original spending plan from Gov. Tony Evers. For advocates who sought more, the final budget’s omissions were especially disappointing after new projections showing that over the next two years, the state’s tax revenues will be more than $4 billion greater than originally projected.

“We felt the needs of really vulnerable people were ignored,” Pugh says. Those weren’t limited to the health budget, she adds citing the “complete dismissal of the dire needs of special education” in the committee’s revisions to the state education budget.

More from Wisconsin Examiner

Missouri Governor calls special session on Missouri Medicaid funding

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has called for a special session as $722 million is on the line in the state budget.

The governor tweeted the update Tuesday just minutes after state lawmakers failed to meet his noon deadline to work out an agreement on a critical piece of Medicaid funding. Parson had said he would cut the $722 million out of the state budget on July 1, including $182 million in state funding for programs ranging from K-12 school busing to nursing home care. At issue is a tax on hospitals and other medical providers that’s used to draw down federal Medicaid funding. Parson said without the tax, the state will face a nearly $1.4 billion funding gap over the next two years.

More from KSDK

Florida: DeSantis Signs Bipartisan Legislation Affecting Children with Disabilities

Schools across Florida must soon follow stricter guidelines when it comes to restraining students with cognitive, developmental and behavioral disabilities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bipartisan bill that will prohibit staff from forcing K-12 students with disabilities to isolate in a room, a practice known as seclusion.

Under the measure, school staff must try to use positive behavior interventions before restraining students who are a danger to themselves or others. It will also require video monitoring in classrooms with students who have disabilities upon receiving a written request from a student or parent

More from Health News Florida

Research & Reports

Disability Group Homes At Risk Of COVID Outbreaks As Staff Falls Behind In Vaccination

Workers at group homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled New Yorkers in New York State are falling behind in COVID-19 vaccinations, according to data from the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Akin to long-term care facilities, group homes were hit hard by COVID-19. More than 7,000 group home residents and 11,000 group home staff have tested positive for the coronavirus as of June 16th, according to data from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. A study published in October found that New Yorkers living in group homes were four times as likely as those in the general population to contract the virus.

Social distancing is difficult in group homes. Residents share kitchens and bathrooms. They receive help from staff with bathing, dressing and other daily activities. Because of understaffing, an agency may deploy its workers across multiple group homes, which increases the risk of transmission between resident communities as well as the staff’s families.

More from Gothamist

Original study available here. 

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Health care is a human right in times of crisis. Why not every day?

Opinion: Vikram Bakhru

Much of the world has settled the matter of whether health care ought to be a human right. The United Nations said so in 1948. The American founders might as well have said it in 1776 when they listed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness among citizens’ unalienable rights, but this vision has not yet been realized, as evidenced by rampant disparities in access to care. Denying millions of Americans ready and affordable access to health care is often touted as the best option the U.S. has for controlling health care costs. But in times of crisis, policymakers concede that this is a lie — if not explicitly, then with their actions. For example, when Covid-19 vaccines became available late last year, the general agreement was that free health care was the best, least expensive way to end the pandemic. Vaccines were offered to all Americans. Government and private insurers charged no fees to individuals for these potentially lifesaving shots, and in some cases even picked up the tab for appointment scheduling services and rides to the clinic.

More from Stat

Google releases Inclusive Marketing tools and resources with help of Disability IN and other organizations

As marketers, every creative choice we make has the power to shape how we see ourselves and each other – and make a positive contribution to the media landscape. Yet too many perspectives are being excluded from all stages of the creative process. We would like to change that.

A few years ago, we began an Inclusive Marketing practice to help our teams improve representation and belonging in our work. Along the way, we've heard from Googlers, experts, community leaders and other organizations about what positive change would look like. The insights and processes we’re sharing are just what we’ve learned so far. We know there’s still a considerable amount of work to be done and as we change and grow together, so will these pages.

More from Google

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Summer Meeting (virtual)
August 5, 2021
1:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern


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