Action Alert: Heroes Act; NCIL on Police Violence; Hospital Visitor Policies


May 15, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Action Alert: Heroes Act; NCIL on Police Violence; Hospital Visitor Policies

Today, we have an action alert and important updates. You will not want to miss these. Read on.

Action Alert, New Covid Bill in Congress: Today, the U.S. House is expected to vote on the Heroes Act, a new Covid-19 relief bill. While the bill is not perfect, it does include funds for housing, as well as an increased federal match for states spending on Medicaid home and community based services. The bill also includes the Heroes Fund which provides for hazard pay for essential workers, including those working as disability supports. Here is an easy email tool to contact your members of Congress to support this bill.

However, do know that the U.S. Senate appears unlikely to work on this bill any time soon, even if the House passes it. Congress is deeply split along party lines on how to handle the Covid-19 crisis. In general, the Democrats tend to want to act fast to stabilize the economy with the view that early action is best; the Republicans tend to want to slow down to see the effect of the money that has already been invested. See this link for a discussion about the situation. The main thing for disability advocates is that it is critical to keep sharing your stories with your members of Congress. They represent YOU and they need to fight for you. Keep up your good work!

NCIL Issues Statement on Police Violence: The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), of which Access Living is a member, issued a statement this week condemning police violence against Black people. There have been several recent high-profile incidents involving active, off-duty or retired law enforcement. For example, a retired investigator is one of the men allegedly involved in the Georgia murder of Black runner Ahmaud Arbery. The NCIL statement outlines the overlap between the disability movement and the struggle for racial justice. The statement comes at a time when, here in Chicago, the city prepares to pay $2.25 million to the family of a young Black disabled man, Ricardo Hayes, who was chased down and killed by an off-duty police sergeant.

Disability and Hospital Visitor Policies: During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the top problems facing many people with disabilities is whether hospitals will allow them to be accompanied by another person who is providing disability support. Nationwide, the tendency among health systems is to ban visitors. However, many people with disabilities require a support person for accessing healthcare. National disability advocates have put together an overview on disability and hospital visitors at this link from Communication First. An extensive list of existing guidance is at this link; check for info in your state.

Of note to our readers in Illinois, the State did issue guidance that says:

  • “To avoid discrimination against persons with disabilities in the allocation of healthcare resources to institutions and the rationing of medical treatment, healthcare providers are urged to consider the following principles: …
  • Persons with disabilities should be permitted to rely on reasonable accommodations that provide meaningful access to information and equal opportunity to benefit from the treatment. For example, these modifications might include interpreter services or the presence of an assistant, aide, or family member, provided that essential precautions can be taken to contain the spread of infection. Use of technology should also be considered in evaluating necessary reasonable accommodations.
    The use of effective communication is critical to a patient’s autonomy and ability to participate in their care. Otherwise, medical providers risk substituting misplaced assumptions and biases about the person with a disability for verifiable information and medical history. In addition, effective communication leads to better transparency in process and protocols, which helps to ensure that the medical provider and person with a disability understand each other and agree.”

This guidance was distributed to every hospital in Illinois. If you are aware of situations in ILLINOIS where a disability support person was barred from accompanying someone with a disability, please let our Civil Rights Team know at or (312) 640-2106.

As always, thank you for your continued advocacy.