Updates from Access Living, May 4, 2020


May 4, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Illinois Help for Stimulus Check Cashing, Nursing Home Crisis, UN Guidance, HCBS Survey Results

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

As it is Monday morning, we once again have several important disability related updates for you. Please read on.

Illinois Offers Options for People Without Banks to Cash Stimulus Checks: According to this statement, the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (IDFPR) has announced new options for unbanked Illinoisans seeking to cash their stimulus checks without incurring check cashing fees. There are now several banking institutions that are willing to provide non-customers in Illinois with options to cash their stimulus checks to ensure these funds go to what people need, instead of being used on processing fees. This only applies to non-customers wanting to cash stimulus checks. Please share this info with Illinoisans who may need it.

Illinois Faces Possible Nursing Home Strike: In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tragically high levels of infections and deaths among both nursing home workers and residents, Illinois nursing home workers unionized under SEIU Healthcare have delivered strike notices to 64 nursing facilities statewide. The strike could start late this week. It is very, very tricky sometimes to balance the interests of workers, those who live in nursing facilities, and the families of both of these groups. The reality is that “congregate care” has serious flaws that must be questioned: Why are workers paid so little, and why is it so easy to put people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes? Why is it so hard to get people out?

If the workers do go on strike, the Illinois Department of Public Health, as well as local emergency systems, will likely have to step up to handle the care of the residents in the facilities. The workers are demanding personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard pay, both of which could help facilities be safer while preventing the loss of needed workers. Keep an eye on media updates on this evolving situation.

At Access Living, we would urge that everyone involved in institutionalization do some hard thinking about why “congregate care” is failing, not only during the pandemic, but on a daily basis.

United Nations Guidance on Disability Rights During Covid-19: The United Nations has issued several recommendations on disability and Covid, 19, at this link. The recommendations include:

  • Strengthen national legislation and policies on health care in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
  • Identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility in health-care facilities.
  • Improve healthcare coverage and affordability for persons with disabilities as part of universal approaches to health care.
  • Train healthcare personnel on disability inclusion and improve service delivery for persons with disabilities.
  • Empower persons with disabilities to take control over their own health-care decisions, on the basis of informed consent.
  • Prohibit discriminatory practices in health insurance and promote health insurance coverage for assistive products and rehabilitation services.
  • Improve research and data to monitor, evaluate and strengthen health systems to include and deliver for persons with disabilities.

Many of you are involved in advocacy with state and Congress for many of the above points, and we hope the above recommendations can support your efforts.

ANCOR Survey Results on Covid-19 and HCBS: The American Network of Community Options and Resources just released survey results about the impact of Covid-19 on providers of home and community based services. 689 providers across the United States responded, with over half saying they have had to close at least one program, and that they have had increased staff overtime expenses. The survey results are at this link.

This evidence of lack of investment in HCBS only further justifies calls by U.S. Senators for Congress to allocate $50 billion in HCBS funding for in response to Covid-19.

Thank you as always for your advocacy for people with disabilities.