LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, November 20, 2020


CEO Summit Series to Tackle Workforce Challenges in Two-part Seminar January 19 & 26

CEO Summit Series: 2020–2021 continues January 19 and 26 with an examination of one of our field’s most pressing concerns: the state of our workforce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Carolyn Cawley will provide insights during our two-part “Workforce: Reimagining Your Most Trusted Assets” seminar about exploring the critical steps CEOs should take now to meet current and future workforce needs, the workforce patterns that are emerging and lessons learned for CEOs in times of extreme global stress, and innovative ways to invest resources based on changing workforce trends. Ms. Cawley will be joined by half a dozen of your peers with first-hand knowledge and experience on how to transform your workforce.

Then on February 23, we conclude this year’s series with a thought-provoking look ahead at the post-pandemic landscape and the realities and opportunities that await. Renowned corporate strategist David Morey returns alongside Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh for “Looking Forward: Post-pandemic Realities and Opportunities” to review which market forces are here to stay, which innovations we need to adopt, and how adaptations made during disruption can be sustained.

Register here for this timely series today!

The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Upcoming Series Webinar

Dec. 2, 1–2 p.m. EST: Book Launch with LSA’s own Héctor Colón — “From Boxing Ring to Boardroom: 5 Essential Virtues for Life and Leadership”

Join us as we hear the story of Héctor Colón, president and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Formerly an international boxer, Héctor is now a published author on life and leadership and heads one of the largest nonprofits in the Midwest. During this webinar, Héctor will share 5 essential virtues you can use to be an exceptional leader, achieve personal fulfillment, and overcome adversity in work and life. Register here.

Honoring Our Front Line Heroes

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network. This week we are launching a new digital booklet that offers every inspiring entry to date in our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer 2020 issue highlights the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, and is just the first collection in what will be a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find the summer issue and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Caitlyn Gudmundsen ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

CMS Announces $165 million in New Funding for Money Follows the Person Demonstration Programs

On September 23rd the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding is being provided to help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

According to CMS, this action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.


Advocacy Update

No significant Congressional movement toward passage of COVID-19 relief: Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases nationally and in the U.S. capitol, as a number of lawmakers are in self-quarantine after testing positive for the virus, Congress does not appear closer to passing a relief bill.  White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has returned to work from his own self-quarantine, and he is working towards jump starting talks, but there has been little change in the stalemate between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is seeking a $500 million package and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is urging negotiation based on the $2.2 trillion House-passed measure.  Earlier this week Mr. McConnell acknowledged that he has not had any private talks with the speaker and continues to support a narrow bill targeting support for schools, small businesses and liability protections for health organizations.
The outlook for passage is clouded by Congress's December 11th deadline to fund the government or face a shutdown.  Congress will soon need to focus on passing a continuing resolution to keep the government open, and while possible, inclusion of any COVID-19 related relief measures in the resolution is unlikely since it could complicate its passage.

Lutheran Services in America continues to work with other nonprofit organizations to urge passage of a COVID-19 relief bill now with additional Paycheck Protection Program funding and other support to aid them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Resources
Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have. 


Desperately trying to wipe the virus away

As covid-19 threatened a group home for disabled women, their caregivers opened a stash of Clorox wipes, hoping to stop the infection from spreading: They’d always checked temperatures inside this house. Twice a day the thermometer was moved from bedroom to bedroom, tucked under five arms, offering five beeps and five numbers, assurances that the women who lived here were, for now, okay.

A beep for Andrea Outman, whose oxygen tubes curved around her wheelchair, the only resident of the house who could fully communicate through speech. For Carolyn Davis, the only one who could walk, her graying braids bouncing as she paced. For Ericka Yates, who kept being taken back to the hospital, the complications of her medical history complicating her life again.

A beep for Wah Der Yee, who had spent nearly her entire life in a Virginia-run institution before moving to this suburban ranch in Dumfries, one of America’s more than 76,000 group homes for adults and children with disabilities. Here, medical care was mixed with dance parties and craft classes, grocery runs and dinner outings, neighborhood walks and park picnics. Or it was, until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

More from The Washington Post

New Housing Concepts Emerge For Adults With Developmental Disabilities

Communities of varying shapes and styles are popping up across the country, all aiming to address the severe shortage of housing options for those with developmental disabilities.

Among the newest projects underway is a 15-acre community planned about 20 miles outside of Indianapolis that will offer homes for adults with and without developmental disabilities. The $12 million project that’s expected to open in 2023 will include various size homes as well as a community center and feature clubs and classes promoting independent living skills. Known as Crossbridge Point, the community being developed by the nonprofit ILADD, Inc. is among the first aimed at people with developmental disabilities that will allow families to purchase homes, though the plan also calls for rental units to be available.

More from Disability Scoop

HHS Secretary Azar says the FDA will move ‘as quickly as possible’ to clear Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will move “as quickly as possible” to clear Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for emergency use, the top official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Monday.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the “incredible” interim results from Moderna, which announced on Monday that its vaccine candidate is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19, paired with similar results from Pfizer last week make for a “historic day in public health.”

Azar, who heads the federal agency that oversees the FDA, said it has dedicated teams working with both companies to “remove any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers” and are completing their authorization applications “as we speak.”

More from CNBC

FDA approves first COVID-19 test kit for home use

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it had approved the first COVID-19 self-testing kit for home use that provides results within 30 minutes.

The single-use test, made by Lucira Health, has been given emergency use authorization for home use with self-collected nasal swab samples in individuals aged 14 and older who are suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider, the FDA said.

“While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

The kit can also be used at hospitals and point-of-care settings but samples should be collected by a healthcare provider if the individuals who are tested are younger than 14 years, the health regulator said.

More from Reuters


Biden urges Congress to pass Democrats' COVID-19 relief package

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday urged Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package, touting legislation House Democrats passed earlier this year that is opposed by Republicans.

"Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago," Biden said during remarks in Wilmington, Del. "Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before."

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion version of the HEROES Act in May and passed a $2.2 trillion, slimmed-down version of the package in October. Both versions of the package include money for state and local governments, enhanced unemployment benefits, and a second round of stimulus payments.

More from The Hill


As Virginia routes more students with disabilities to private schools, costs are soaring

Virginia places more students with disabilities outside their local public schools than 37 other states — a trend that’s dramatically increased spending on specialized private schools over the past decade.

The non-residential programs — more commonly known as private day schools — have been a source of frustration for lawmakers over the past several years as more and more state spending has gone toward the cost-intensive model. Costs have more than doubled from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2019, soaring from $81 million to $186 million.

It’s led to numerous efforts within the state’s General Assembly, including an unsuccessful bill in the 2020 legislative session that would have directed the Virginia Department of Education to launch a pilot program aimed at transitioning some private day students back to public schools. The past two budget cycles have also included funding for studies to examine private day tuition rates. with disabilities, which make up 24% of the state's population according to the CDC, were left aside and outside of the planning process because of a lack of understanding of the community, how they live and the help they needed, the report states.

More from

Ohio: Pandemic presents challenges for organizations caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for various organizations and businesses throughout Northeast Ohio. But few have received less attention than those that provide services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Even prior to the pandemic, providers nationwide struggled to retain qualified direct-support professionals (DSPs) -- the frontline workers who interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

DSPs are almost invariably skilled, dedicated individuals who deal with personal, hygienic and behavioral issues that would send most of us running. They are also generally underpaid.

Although many DSPs long resisted better-paying jobs in retail settings and other industries, COVID-19 provided further incentive for them to make a career change.

Providers of services to those with developmental disabilities are facing a number of other issues, as well. Day programs closed in March as the pandemic first took hold. Although the programs have returned, social distancing and various other requirements, as well as fears surrounding COVID-19, have limited participation.

More from


St. Louis Arc inspires and empowers people with disabilities

Building connections is an essential aspect of life. People interact with others daily, whether in school, at work or home. For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, these interactions can be more complex and often overlooked. That’s where St. Louis Arc comes in.

St. Louis Arc was founded in 1952 to provide community-based services for individuals with disabilities. Today, the nonprofit provides a wide variety of services and support to families all over the St. Louis region. From housing to classes to therapy, they ensure that those they serve have all the tools they need to lead fulfilled lives.

“Our mission is to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families to lead better lives by providing a lifetime of high-quality services, family support and advocacy,” said Sharon Spurlock, senior director of family support services. “We work hard to provide individualized services that can help make a difference to an adult, child or family. The services we provide are designed to maximize choice and to support people as they build quality lives within the St. Louis community.”

More from St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Research & Reports

Congressional Research Service: Some states are developing budgets that could impact Medicaid programs

Even with the FFCRA FMAP increase, some states are developing budget reduction plans that could impact Medicaid programs. Usually, states’ options for reducing Medicaid expenditures include no longer covering optional benefits or populations, reducing provider rates, or imposing Medicaid provider taxes. During the current recession, a couple of these options are more difficult than they have been in the past. Reducing Medicaid provider rates has been an option states have favored in the past, because the reduction does not directly affect Medicaid enrollees and the savings from provider rate reductions impact the state budget relatively quickly. However, during the pandemic, some Medicaid providers, such as physicians or clinics, have experienced revenue losses due to lower utilization of services (e.g. preventive services), as other providers, such as certain hospitals and nursing homes, have experienced increased costs during the pandemic. Reductions to Medicaid provider rates might put additional financial stress on both sets of providers. 

More from Congressional Research Service

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Scary Is How You Act, Not Look, Disability Advocates Tell Filmmakers

When “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, was released last month, a collective groan went up from people with disabilities.

The movie, based on a Roald Dahl children’s book, depicted Hathaway with hands that were wizened and disfigured, with two fingers and a thumb on each. The studio said her hands were meant to resemble cat claws, but they looked a whole lot like split hands, or ectrodactyly.

People with limb differences, including paralympians and a “Great British Baking Show” semifinalist, posted photos of their hands and arms on social media with the hashtag #NotAWitch. While Hathaway and Warner Bros. apologized, many saw the damage as already done. Here, yet again, was a villain with a disability, one of the oldest, and, for many, most damaging, storytelling tropes still around.

More from The New York Times

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
Dates TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, enCircle

Mary Mulliet
DN Treasurer
Vice President of Community Services, Samaritas

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America