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Washington, D.C. – Last week, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging that a portion of the funding provided within the CARES Act be dedicated to support professionals and those who care for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Direct Support Professionals are dedicated individuals who care for those with physical or intellectual disabilities and help them become or stay a valued member of their community. 

“This COVID-19 outbreak has presented subsequent crises throughout the health care sector. The fallout from this virus is already evident in our economy and in the mental and physical health of Americans," said Emmer. "Direct Support Professionals are a vital part of health care delivery and are serving as the front-line providers allowing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live full lives. They deserve our support and I am urging my colleagues to fund this effort.”  

Specifically, the letter requested that Congress allocate $8.3 billion in emergency supplemental funding for Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) rehabilitation providers and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IDDs) through the Public Health and Social Services Fund (PHSSF) authorized in the CARES Act. 

Congressman Tom Emmer also led the Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act alongside Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). This legislation authorizes states with 1915(c) waivers to reimburse providers for time Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) spend supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) during short-term hospital stays. The bill was included in the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Trump.

Currently, DSPs are experiencing a staffing crisis, and a shortage of equipment such as masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns. These efforts are consistent with an emergency estimate advanced by the President’s Committee for People With Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID). This letter follows the efforts of Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act by supporting DSPs and urges Congressional Leadership to act swiftly to provide this much-needed emergency funding. 

Read the letter here