Contact: Emily Voorde at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-286-9733
WASHINGTON, DC – In light of the termination of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Maria Town, President and CEO of The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), released the following statement:
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, disabled people have been consistently an afterthought in policy-making and in the implementation of public health measures. This moment is no different. Though the presence of vaccines and treatment have vastly improved quality of life for so many, the pandemic continues to surge through communities. More than 1,000 Americans continue to die per week, and a disproportionate number of those deaths are disabled, immunocompromised, and other high-risk people. The end of the Public Health Emergency continues to signal that the nation and our broader society have moved on, and ignores millions who have been disabled by long COVID, millions more who could be impacted, and further pushes marginalized communities into greater crisis.
At a time when our nation should understand the value of accessible, preventative healthcare most clearly, millions of people will lose their eligibility and their health insurance coverage because of Medicaid unwinding tied to the end of the Public Health Emergency. And, the budget recently passed by the House of Representatives cuts Medicaid spending and makes it harder for disabled people to access at a time when we have never needed it more. We urge Congress to bolster funding for Medicaid, SNAP, and the Affordable Connectivity Program. We urge the Biden Administration to maintain COVID vaccine requirements for workers in congregate settings and to ensure communities, particularly those who are uninsured, can continue to access masks, COVID testing, vaccines, and treatments. We urge employers, educators, and healthcare settings to maintain remote participation options and invest in systems to improve air quality.
While the formal declaration of the public health emergency has ended, COVID will remain an emergency for disabled people. We have been left to mitigate systemic problems through individual choices, but our nation’s leaders and legislators still have an opportunity to extend protections and resources to communities so that we can be more resilient during this continued pandemic and in future disasters.