Action Alert! Tell Your Senators We Need Emergency HCBS Funding in the Next COVID-19 Relief Bill!

February 17, 2021

Tell Your Senators We Need Emergency HCBS Funding in the Next COVID-19 Relief Bill! 

Many disabled people rely on home and community-based services (HCBS) to live in the community. Now, at a time when COVID-19 is rapidly spreading, these services are more critical than ever as they keep people with disabilities out of institutions, where the virus is spreading at devastating rates. The disability community needs emergency funding for Medicaid home and community-based services. That funding has not been included in any of the COVID relief legislation passed since the beginning of the pandemic, but we must change that. 

Congress is putting together the next COVID-19 relief package now, and the House of Representatives has already included emergency HCBS funding in their version of the COVID relief package. Now we need the Senate to do the same. We’re asking you to participate in our week of action, and ask your Senators to make sure the final COVID-19 relief bill includes the funding our community needs. Here’s how you can participate:

Take Action

Call your Senators! 

You can call your senator and use this script: 

Hello! My name is [your full name], and I am from [city]. I’m calling to ask Senator [Name] to make sure the Senate’s COVID relief package includes emergency funding for Medicaid home and community-based services.

Home and community-based services funded by Medicaid allow people with disabilities like [me/ my family member/ my friends/ my neighbor/ etc.] to continue living safely at home. These services keep people with disabilities out of institutions, where COVID-19 is currently killing thousands. Because of the pandemic, community-based service providers are struggling to stay open, and without emergency funds, some will be forced to close. 

The House has already included emergency funding for Medicaid home- and community-based services in their COVID relief bill. We just need the Senate to include it too. This funding is a life and death issue for disabled [residents of your state]. Can I count on Senator [Name] to stand up for people with disabilities by making sure that funding is in the Senate bill?

Need help making calls? Check out our proxy calling system: 

Want to help make calls for other people? Send an email to with your name and preferred email.

Email your Senators! 

Contacting Congress provides unique links to email your Senators directly. You can use the same script you did while calling.

Engage your Senators on Social Media! 

Tweet your Senators – find their Twitter handles here.

Sample Social Media Posts:

Take action TODAY to protect the disability community during COVID-19:  #MedicaidCantWait

The Senate emergency COVID-19 relief funding includes NO funding for community-based services — services that many people with disabilities rely on to stay out of institutions, where COVID-19 is spreading. Take action TODAY. #MedicaidCantWait #HCBS

The Senate is refusing to include #HCBS funding in the new COVID-19 relief package. Don’t let them get away with it — call/email TODAY to let your elected officials know we’re watching! #MedicaidCantWait

Without #HCBS funding, people with disabilities risk being forced into institutions, where COVID-19 is running rampant. Call and tell your Senator that #MedicaidCantWait using this script:

Join the Facebook event for scripts, tips, and check ins throughout the week.

Our community has been left out of the picture when it comes to COVID relief over and over again. Enough is enough. When HCBS is at risk, our lives are on the line: #MedicaidCantWait!

*Script language from ASAN.

Action Alert! Tell Your Senators to Vote No on Amy Coney Barrett

October 24, 2020

Tell Your Senators to Vote No on Amy Coney Barrett!!

The Senate Judiciary Committee broke Senate rules, and Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court will be headed to a full vote VERY SOON. We expect the full Senate to vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court as soon as October 26, though the date is not set. Your calls, emails, and tweets are needed now more than ever. Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would pose a serious threat to the rights of people with disabilities.  Judge Barrett has stated that she believes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional.  During her confirmation hearings she refused to back down from this statement. She also refused to say that Medicare and Social Security were clearly constitutional. Millions of Americans with disabilities stand to lose their health care coverage if Justice Barrett becomes a deciding vote to strike down the law.  If she is confirmed on the schedule currently set, she would join the Court in time to participate in the November 10th arguments in the case challenging the ACA. 

Please take a few minutes today to tell your Senators to vote no on her nomination!

The Affordable Care Act is important for people with disabilities.  Its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, expansion of Medicaid, requirements for coverage of mental health services and habilitation services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, expansion of home and community-based services options, protections against disability discrimination, and expansion of the reach of mental health parity are essential to the health, independence, and self-sufficiency of Americans with disabilities.

Judge Barrett’s record also raises other serious concerns for people with disabilities as well.  For details, you can read the letter that AAPD and more than 50 other disability organizations sent to the Senate opposing her nomination.

Now more than ever, Senators in every state need to know that Barrett is a dangerous nominee who would put disability rights at risk and vote to overturn the ACA. 

Please take some time today or through the weekend to let your Senator know that you’re counting on them to protect disability rights and oppose Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Take Action

Call your Senators

Call Senators through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (tty) and ask to be connected to your Senators. Use Contacting Congress to easily identify your Senators.

Sample Call Script:
Hello, this is [name]. I’m a resident of [town, state]. I am calling to ask [Senator’s name] to oppose the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. As a [person with a disability or family member/friend/co-worker of a person with a disability], I am worried that Judge Barrett’s statements on the Affordable Care Act mean that, if confirmed, she would vote to overturn the ACA. Millions of Americans with disabilities rely on the ACA to protect our right to healthcare. If the ACA is overturned, especially during a pandemic, millions of lives could be at risk.

I ask you to vote no to Judge Barrett and pass on my concerns to your fellow Senators.

Thank you!

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]

Email and Tweet your Senators

Use the advocacy tool below to send an email and tweet directly to your Senators to tell them to oppose the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, or keep scrolling for sample social media content. Once you fill out your information, edit the email to personalize it with your name, location, and experience.

Be sure to connect your Twitter account to use the social media outreach feature of this tool.

Sample Posts that include options to call out states and Senators directly:

The Senate will vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. She has stated she believes the ACA is unconstitutional. A vote for judge Barrett is a vote to repeal the ACA and roll back disability rights! Tell your senator to vote NO on her nomination! View our full action alert  #OurCourt #WhatsAtStake

ACTION ALERT: The Senate is days away from confirming Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, threatening the #ACA and lives of millions of people with disabilities. Tell your Senator today to vote NO on Barrett! #OurCourt #WhatsAtStake Learn how to help at

100,000 million people will lose critical healthcare protections if the ACA is repealed. Amy Coney Barrett believes that the ACA is unconstitutional. Tell your Senators to protect the ACA and to vote NO on her nomination! #OurCourt #WhatsAtStake View our full action alert

Twitter Graphic, Facebook Graphic, Instagram Graphic

Bold black text says “Action Alert: Help Protect Our Healthcare,” and smaller text says “The confirmation of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court threatens the healthcare and lives of MILLIONS of people with disabilities. You can help by telling your Senators to vote NO on Judge Barrett by...Phone, Email, Mail” with red icons of a phone, computer mouse, and mail next to the words phone, email, and mail respectively. The bright yellow graphic has a red heart rate monitor line on the bottom left and the black AAPD logo on the bottom right.

Check out our Social Media Toolkit for more social media posts and graphics!

Material on Judge Barrett

*Script language from AUCD.

ACTION ALERT—Congress: Include People with Disabilities in COVID-19 Relief!

March 20, 2020

As disability right advocates, you’ve made countless calls to your elected officials. You know how to make your voice heard. Now, we need you to do something different: use email and social media to tell your members of congress, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Kevin McCarthy that they MUST center the needs of disabled people in the new coronavirus relief package.

The disability community has been overlooked in Congress’s previous attempts to address COVID-19. Now, Congress is working on a third bill, the largest one yet—and we are being excluded again. People with disabilities are being hit the hardest by COVID-19. If we are going to get through this, we need Congress to pay attention to us and make sure the third bill includes things like:

  • Extra funding so Medicaid can still provide home and community based services during the crisis.
  • Making sure family caregivers for adults with disabilities are covered by paid leave.
  • Making sure that people on SSI or SSDI are able to receive cash payments like everyone else, without worrying about income or asset limits.
  • Making sure that people with disabilities can get our medications refilled.
  • Making sure we don’t face discrimination in health care.
  • Protecting the rights of students with disabilities.
  • Permanently reauthorizing Money Follows the Person, to make sure that people who are institutionalized during the crisis can return to their homes and communities.

Because of the virus, there aren’t many people in Congress answering the phones right now. But we can still make our voices heard. Here’s what you can do:

  • Email your Members of Congress using this tool from The Arc.
  • Tweet at your Members of Congress and tell them that they must include the disability community’s needs in the new coronavirus relief package.

The Case for H.R. 3730

November 23, 2018 | Laura Power, 2018 AAPD Summer Intern

When I was applying to colleges, I was awarded a scholarship for writing an essay about how durable medical equipment (DME) affected my life. I have discovered that the definition of durable medical equipment I was using at the time was partially incorrect. My wheelchair, with its many supportive features, was not merely DME, but complex rehab technology (CRT). CRT and DME greatly differ. Medical insurance does not often cover aspects of CRT.

The implications of a related amendment, H.R. 3730, can be understood through comparison to existing legislation. The bill was created with a view to amending Title 18 of the Social Security Act (Medicare). The context, nuances, and implications of CRT and H.R. 3730 are worth exploring.

It is impossible to commence a thorough discussion of H.R. 3730 without considering the definitions of CRT or of the primary ways in which it differs from standard DME. According to the United Spinal Association’s materials, whereas DME is primarily used by beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare based on age, CRT is primarily used by Medicare and Medicaid recipients who are living with disabilities. Unlike standard DME, evaluation and maintenance of CRT requires a team of professionals including a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a certified rehab professional. In addition, customizing CRT to reflect individual needs requires a more thorough evaluation process. Finally, CRT quality standards are more rigorous than those of DME.

Currently, prices for standard durable medical equipment in certain parts of the country are determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) competitive bidding program. This means that DME and CRT providers compete to be accepted by CMS. The competitive bidding program is disadvantageous to the consumer because, in order to be eligible to furnish products to individuals who need them, companies are incentivized to offer the lowest price. This often means neglecting coverage of “accessories” or critical components needed by people using manual wheelchairs and related features and deeming them medically unnecessary. These components or features include electronically powered rear wheels, which allow individuals lacking upper body strength or endurance to propel themselves (Smart Drive), and cushions and tilting features designed to relieve pressure. Access to these features would promote independence and prevent hospitalization of manual wheelchair users, allowing them to easily live in the community. H.R. 3730 would exempt manual wheelchair accessories from the competitive bidding program and it would allow individuals to choose vendors in their price range and prohibit Medicare from fixing prices. Congressman Lee Zeldin sponsored H.R. 3730. It now has 120 cosponsors. When signed into law, this legislation would allow Medicare to better serve the disabled community.

H.R. 3730 accounts for the many differences between CRT and DME by acknowledging that prices should not be fixed on customized features thereby offering consumers a choice. If the consumer is offered options to find the technology that works best for them, they are likely to maintain their health. For these reasons H.R. 3730 is important and should be codified.


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Laura Power is a 2018 AAPD Summer Intern. She interned with the United Spinal Association.


“Competitive Bidding Program.” The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
2018. Web. July 28, 2018.

“H.R.3730 – To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the non-application of Medicare
competitive acquisition rates to complex rehabilitative manual wheelchairs and accessories.” Library of Congress. 2018. Web. July 28, 2018.
“2012 Position Paper.” United Spinal Association. United Spinal Association. 2018. Web. July 28, 2018.


Action Alert! Join the Call-In Day to Support Money Follows the Person!

National Call-In Day: Thursday, November 15

November 15, 2018

As the holiday season draws near, urge Members of Congress to pass the bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act (S.2227 and H.R.5306), which would extend and improve the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. MFP is a Medicaid program that has helped over 88,000 people with disabilities and seniors voluntarily move out of nursing homes or institutions and back into their communities. MFP restores the dignity and liberty of people with disabilities by promoting and supporting choice and community living.

Funding for the MFP program expired on September 30, 2016 and states are running out of funding. We need your help and advocacy to get the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act (S.2227 and H.R.5306).

By passing the EMPOWER Care Act and funding the Money Follows the Person program, Congress can help more people with disabilities transition out of institutions and nursing homes and back into the community. Without action NOW, more people will be trapped in institutions.

People with disabilities have the right to live in the community – Urge Congress to support the EMPOWER Care Act and fund Money Follows the Person!


Take Action

Use the advocacy tool below to send an email and tweet directly to your Senators and Representative to tell them to support the EMPOWER Care Act and fund the MFP program.

Be sure to connect your Twitter account to use the social media outreach feature of this tool.


Social Media


National Call-In Day: As holidays approach, urge Congress to pass the Empower Care Act
November 15, 2018

This holiday season, call your Members of Congress and tell them to pass the EMPOWER Care Act so that everyone can be home for the holidays. Join disability advocates around the country on November 15 for a National Call-In Day to support community living.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators and Representative.

Visit the EMPOWER Care Act web page hosted by the Center for Public Representation for more information.

Sample Call Script:

Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State].

I am calling to express my concern about the expiration of the Money Follow the Person (MFP) program.

MFP has enabled over 88,000 older adults and people with disabilities living in institutions to transition back to their communities. MFP is fiscally responsible: it has improved the quality of live for thousands of individuals while saving states money. The program has expired and states are scaling back their programs, and without funding, could have to completely eliminate them.

I am asking [Member of Congress’ Name] to cosponsor and support the EMPOWER Care Act to reauthorize Money Follows the Person Program.

Thank you for taking my call!

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]

[Optional Add On]

Personal stories are the most effective form of advocacy. Talk about why Money Follows the Person is important for you or someone you know and love.




MFP Enhances Opportunities to Live Independently and Age with Dignity

Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but makes home- and community-based services (HCBS) optional. MFP better re-balances Medicaid by providing grants to states to cover transitional services for individuals who wish to leave nursing homes or other institutions. Thanks to MFP, over 88,000 individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities and seniors have been able to transition from institutions back into the community since 2015.


MFP Rebalancing Demonstration is a Success Story – Improves Quality of Life

At the end of 2015, more than 43 states and the District of Columbia were participating in the MFP demonstration. As part of an evaluation provided to Congress in a 2017 report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that there is strong evidence beneficiaries’ quality of life improves when they transition from institutional to community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS). MFP participants experienced increases across all seven quality-of-life domains measured, and the improvements were largely sustained after two years.


States Save with Money Follows the Person

Providing LTSS in the home is more cost effective than institutional care because, among other reasons, it eliminates the need for Medicaid to cover the cost of room and board in a nursing home. On average, per-beneficiary per-month expenditures for those participating in the re-balancing demonstration declined by $1,840 (23 percent) during the first year of transition from a nursing home to home and community-based LTSS. CMS also found that MFP participants are less likely to be readmitted to institutional care than other beneficiaries who transition but do not participate in the program.


The Time is Now: Money Follows the Person Expired in September 2016

Unfortunately, the MFP program expired over a year ago. States can continue to use their remaining grant funding through 2020, but that is not enough to maintain the program at current levels, and certainly will not allow states to expand the number of participants. Overall, states have had to scale back plans submitted to CMS by approximately 40%. This means fewer individuals will be able to transition out of institutional settings into the care setting of their choice. The EMPOWER Care Act solves that problem by reauthorizing the program through 2022.


The EMPOWER Care Act Makes Improvements to the Program

The EMPOWER Care Act improves the MFP program by reducing the number of days someone must be in a nursing home before becoming eligible to transition from 90 days to 60 days (evidence shows that the longer someone remains in a nursing home, the harder it can be to transition out). The legislation also enhances the reporting and accountability of MFP funding and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a best practices evaluation that covers the most effective state strategies for transitioning beneficiaries from institutional to qualified community settings and how such strategies may vary for different types of beneficiaries.


Ask your Members of Congress to Co-Sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act Today!


Return of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

November 8, 2018 | Jagger Esch, President & CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ

Graphic depicting a medicare enrollment form

If you or a loved one is a Medicare beneficiary due to disability, you know how complicated and confusing Medicare can be. Each year changes are made to Medicare.

This year, for 2019, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period will make a return. There will also be increases in Part A and Part B of Medicare, including premium and deductible increases.


Part A Premium Increases

If you have fewer than 40 quarters of employment or you’re disabled, you probably pay a monthly premium since you voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Part A. If this is the case, you will notice a premium increase.

If you had a minimum of 30 quarters or were married to someone with 30 quarters of coverage, you may buy into Part A at a lowered monthly fee, which would be $240 in 2019, an $8 increase from the fee in 2018.

Anyone that has exhausted other entitlement will pay the full premium, which to $437 a month for 2019 (an increase of $15 since 2018).


Part A Deductible Increases

The Part A deductible increased by $24, for a total of $1,340 in 2019. Beneficiaries with only Medicare as their coverage will be expected to pay this if admitted to the hospital.

If you have Original Medicare, you will be expected to pay a coinsurance amount of $341 per day for the 61st through 90th day of hospitalization in 2019. In 2018, the amount was $335 per day for 61 to 90 days of hospitalization.

For your lifetime reserve days, the amount went up from $670 to $682 per day.

If you’re in a skilled nursing facility, you can expect their daily coinsurance for days 21 through 100 of extended care services in a benefit period to be $170.50 in 2019, this is an increase from $167.50 in 2018.


Part B Premium Increases

The new Part B premium for 2019 will be $135.50, only $1.50 more per month than in 2018.

The income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) impacts about 5 percent of people with Medicare Part B.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added a high-income bracket, if your income is $500,000 or more ($750,000 or more for a married couple) then you will pay $460.50 a month for Part B in 2019.


Part B Deductible Increase

The Part B deductible will increase from $183 to $185 in 2019. Beneficiaries with a Medicare Supplement Plan F or Plan C have coverage for this deductible.

Medicare Advantage plan enrollees have low copays and deductibles; this shouldn’t change with the increases in Medicare.


Help Affording Medicare Increases

Having coverage in addition to Medicare will help cover the costs of many of these increases. Talking to a licensed insurance expert can make your life easier and help you gain confidence in your health care coverage.


Return of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) was discontinued in 2010 and now, in 2019, it will make a return. From 2011-2018 Medicare beneficiaries were given only the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), during this time beneficiaries were able to disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and switch only to Original Medicare.

Now all that is about to change. The Medicare OEP will begin on January 1st and end on March 31st. During this time Medicare beneficiaries will be able to disenroll from there Medicare Advantage plan and enroll into another Medicare Advantage plan or switch back to Original Medicare, with or without Part D coverage.

Medicare beneficiaries won’t be able to switch Part D prescription drug plans. If you are currently enrolled into a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan, you will need to change your policy during the annual enrollment period from October 15 through December 7.

Each year, by September 30, Medicare Advantage recipients receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing insurance carrier for their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription drug plan providers.

CMS posts plan changes for the following year sometime in October, several months before the new year. is a valuable online resource for Medicare beneficiaries; you can compare plans, look up information and learn about Medicare.


* * *

Jagger Esch is the President & CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ, a senior healthcare learning resource center. As a young entrepreneur and seasoned insurance expert, he has a passion for helping people. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate them on all their Medicare options. Jagger lives in the Florida sunshine state and loves boating with his family on the weekends.

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