Covid-19 Relief Bill Passes Congress; IL Vaccine Finder; Public Charge Victory


March 11, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Updates from Access Living:

Covid-19 Relief Bill Passes Congress; IL Vaccine Finder; Public Charge Victory

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Access Living friends and allies,

It’s a very busy week for disability advocacy developments! Today we’d like to highlight a few important items related to Covid-19 relief, access to vaccines in Illinois, and the end of the public charge rule.

Covid-19 Relief Bill Passes Congress:

Today, President Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for Covid-19 relief, the largest public relief bill signed since the Great Depression. The bill includes funds for unemployment aid, a new round of stimulus checks, vaccine funds, state and local relief funds, and a number of other provisions. Here is a link to a stimulus payment calculator from ABC News. The bill is also a historic effort to directly address poverty for millions.

And, for the very first time, the federal Covid-19 relief effort includes funds for Medicaid home and community-based services through a 10% increase in federal matching funds for one year. For more on the disability view on Covid-19 legislation, see this page from the Center for Public Representation. The inclusion of these and other disability-related funds only came about after relentless pressure from advocates across the nation. THANK YOU!

Illinois Vaccine Finder Website:

For eligible people hunting for a vaccine in Illinois, a website called may be helpful. This was created by a 13-year-old student named Eli Coustan. His website compiles appointment availability and eligibility info across more than 200 locations in the Chicagoland area. Around half of the locations auto-update, and the others are updated at least daily by volunteers. The website has Spanish translation, and increased contrast and text size options.  Here is a recent news story about the website. Please share this info with people who may need to know.

End of the Public Charge Rule:

We are thankful to learn that the Biden administration has decided to vacate the Trump public charge rule affecting certain immigrants, ending a lawsuit filed by Illinois-based immigration advocates. As you may recall, the public charge rule was fundamentally a test that barred certain immigrants from pathways to citizenship based on their use of public benefits programs such as Medicaid, housing vouchers, food stamps and more. These public programs also tend to be heavily used by people with disabilities, meaning that the public charge rule was fundamentally weaponized ableism used in the service of xenophobia. The public charge rule effectively created a major scare campaign directed at immigrants in general. Access Living congratulates our fellow immigration advocates on this historic win!