Latest Updates Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Disability Issues in Review

Read about the latest updates on how Coronavirus (COVID-19) may effect you.

Latest Updates Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Disability Issues in Review

Statewide Stay- at- Home Order to Reduce the Threat of COVID-19

Last week, many local business limited the number of people who could come together at even closing movie theaters, bars and planned public events. The State followed suit on Thursday when Gov. Newsom announced a statewide stay-at-home order to reduce the threat of COVID-19.  The statewide order went into effect immediately and would remain in place “until further notice.”

What Does Stay at Home Order Mean?

Personal Responsibility - All Californians must stay at home except to get food, prescriptions and health care, care for a friend or relative, walking the dog and taking outdoor exercise such as walking, running or hiking. When people do go out, they should practice social distancing.

Business Closures - Most businesses and venues such as indoor malls will be closed to the public. According to state health officials, they include dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment places where people gather, along with gyms and fitness studios. Convention centers and public events are also prohibited.

Essential Businesses

  • Businesses that provide essential services will remain open. Including: grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, pharmacies and other health care providers, news outlets, banks and laundromats.
  • Restaurants can still provide take-out food and make deliveries. Businesses involved in construction and “essential infrastructure” such as plumbers, electricians, gas stations, auto repair shops and hardware stores also are exempt. Public transportation and utilities will continue to provide service.

Enforcement - Misdemeanor penalties apply for violations of the order.

 

How does this Impact Education?

Families in Crisis as Schools Close

Last week families worked to react to schools closing as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19,that forced parents to answer difficult questions like, how do I home school? What if I do not have child care and I need to go to work? How will I replace meals that were provided at school? What if I do not have a computer or internet connection? What about my child with special needs? How will their IEP goals be met? What do you mean school may be closed through summer? 

In the midst of the confusion and anxiety, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to ensure California's public schools retain state funding in the event of closures. The order provides that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days so that the schools can:

  • Continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students feasible through, distance learning and/or independent study;
  • Provide school meals through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, consistent with the requirements of the California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Arrange for, to the extent practicable, supervision for students during ordinary school hours;
  • Federal requirements for students with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including federally mandated timelines, continue to apply;
  • Address equity challenges around internet connectivity; and
  • Continue to pay employees.

Department of Education and California Health and Human Services Agency are now developing strategies to assist parents and continue to provide educational opportunities for all students. Guidance from the Department of Education can be found here. https://www.cde.ca.gov/

 

How does this Impact Service Delivery?

A wise person once said, ‘in times of crisis, pre-existing problems get amplified.’  The coronavirus crisis has magnified the importance of our delivery systems for people with disabilities as we face the possibility that these services could be unavailable when needed most. 

To ensure that California’s most vulnerable residents can continue to receive health care, food assistance and in-home supportive services in a timely manner during the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Newsom issued an executive order to extend the eligibility period for important safety net services. The executive order also waives eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in:

  • Medi-Cal health coverage;
  • CalFresh food assistance;
  • CalWORKS;
  • Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and
  • In-Home Supportive Services

The change will allow current recipients of these safety net programs to continue receiving them without interruption.

Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) reminds Medi-Cal Managed Health Care Plans (MCP) of its existing contractual requirements and state and federal laws that require MCPs to perform the following:

  • Cover all medically necessary emergency care without prior authorization, whether that care is provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider. 
  • Comply with utilization review timeframes for approving requests for urgent and nonurgent covered services. MCPs are required to waive prior authorization requests for services, including screening and testing, related to COVID-19.
  • Ensure the MCP’s provider networks are adequate to handle an increase in the need for services, including offering access to out-of-network services where appropriate and required, as more COVID-19 cases emerge in California.
  • Ensure members are not liable for balance bills from providers, including balance bills related to testing of COVID-19.
  • Ensure MCPs provide members with 24-hour access to an MCP representative with the authority to authorize services, and ensuring that DHCS has contact information for that person. This contact information must be provided to the Contract Manager upon request of DHCS.
 

Federal Legislation Passed

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020:  The bill requires that agencies “pay back” money that was moved from programs like National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and emergency heat funding when the crisis began. 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. Increased paid leave. Enhanced Unemployment Insurance, to people unable to work. Increased funding for food security programs.

We need your Help - Call to Action!

The Senate is proposing using Coronavirus (COVID-19) to strip students with disabilities access to education

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act asks Secretary DeVos to provide Congress with a report of any additional waivers the Secretary believes should be enacted into law. These waivers could allow schools to opt out of providing free appropriate public education to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, cancel individualized education plans, remove procedural safeguards, and much more.

If Congress acts on these waivers it would remove educational services from children with disabilities. This is unexpectable and we need your support.

Send your Senators and representative an email by going to this page:
https://ndrn.salsalabs.org/protectidea/index.html

People with Disabilities Are Being Left Out of COVID-19

Congress is currently negotiating a third piece of legislation to provide support to American families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The disability community's priorities have so far not been included in COVID-19 economic relief packages. We need your help to tell Congress that people with disabilities matter and we must be treated equally.

We need increased funding for home and community based services and direct support professionals, more money for school districts so they can continue to provide an education to students with disabilities, additional funding for SNAP and Meals on Wheels so no one goes hungry, and more.

Send your Senators and Representative an email now by going to this page:
https://ndrn.salsalabs.org/covidresponse/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=ead0ca0a-2ca0-4782-b5ab-35fef72f51cc