Updates from Access Living: COVID-19 and Black Communities, Healthcare Rationing, & Recovery Checks


April 9, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Updates from Access Living: COVID-19 and Black Communities, Healthcare Rationing, & Recovery Checks

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

There’s been a lot of disability updates this week, and today we’d like to share about a variety of items. Read on for more.

COVID-19 and Black Communities: Decades of systemic racism are fueling large disparities for COVID-19 infections and deaths in Black communities. Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke last night on MSNBC about COVID-19 and underlying health conditions experienced by Black communities as a result of decades of racism. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s Aisha Davis penned this excellent piece about the cycle of racism and COVID-19. As the majority of people that Access Living supports through direct service in Chicago are Black and brown people with disabilities, we have been and continue to remain gravely concerned about disparate impact on our community members.

#NoBodyIsDisposable Campaign and Resource: As one way to push back against racial and other disparities, advocates launched www.nobodyisdisposable.org, which is an action campaign but also provides a Know Your Rights Guide when it comes to COVID triage protocols. Campaign founders include people with disabilities, fat people, old people, and people with HIV/AIDS or other illnesses, as well as allies/loved ones. Check it out.

#WeAreEssential National Advocacy: A reminder, disability advocates nationwide are pulling together in an online campaign to urge Congress to address disability needs during the COVID-19 crisis. Check out the social media toolkit drive available at this link. It remains critical to make sure that Congress understands why we need funding for home and community based services, the need for protective personal equipment (PPE) in the community, access to meds and other supports, as well as fixing the recovery rebate problem for people who have SSI, SSDI, and VA benefits. (See the next bullet point on this topic.)

#FixTheGlitch and Those Recovery Checks: The last major COVID-19 bill passed by Congress allowed for recovery rebate checks to be sent automatically to people who have Social Security, but NOT those who have SSI, SSDI, or veteran’s benefits. This was an extremely confusing matter for many knowledgeable advocates, including us at Access Living. So, advocates are now pushing Congress to #FixTheGlitch so that people with SSI, SSDI, or VA benefits can also get recovery support checks without having to file tax returns.

Disability Advocates Win in Alabama: Advocates against eugenics/bias in medical rationing saw a win yesterday in Alabama. The state of Alabama, under pressure from the federal government (which was under pressure from disability advocates), disavowed a ventilator protocol that discriminated against some people with disabilities. See news link here and this statement from the Center for Public Representation.

Medical Rationing, National View: The Center for Public Integrity has also published a review of the status of state protocols related to medical rationing and disability discrimination. See this link for the story and to check out your state’s status. Please note that in Illinois, state officials are actively working on this issue with Access Living and we hope to see news on this front soon.

Vote By Mail Discussions Nationwide: Across the nation, states are talking about using vote-by-mail in elections. Last month, the National Disability Rights Network put out a useful statement that provides some guidance on vote-by-mail from a disability standpoint. Check it out at this link.

Thank you all once again for your advocacy and support this day.