Heroes Act to Provide More COVID-19 Economic Relief for the Disability Community

June 23, 2020

Bill Passed Out of House, Likely to Face Problems in Senate

Another economic relief bill, known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (HR 6800), passed out the House of Representatives on May 15th. The $3 trillion, 1815-page bill is meant to assist all Americans through the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike March’s $2 trillion CARES Act, which now needs a legislative fix to include adult dependents with stimulus payments, the HEROES Act is the only major plan created by Congress to address the needs of people with disabilities during COVID-19.

This extensive legislation addresses many issues that have plagued the disability community since the beginning of the pandemic. In brief, the HEROES Act consists of additional funding, estimated at $10 to $15 billion, for states to pay for Medicaid home and community-based services for the disabled for a full year starting in July. It also includes housing programs utilizing tenant-based vouchers, rental assistance, along with expanded eviction and foreclosure protections are included in the bill to ensure lodging during this critical time period. A retroactive grant of $500 for adult dependents with disabilities is also incorporated in the bill. A ground-breaking feature of this legislation is funding for direct support professionals who provide assistance to the disabled to access personal protective equipment and qualify for hazard pay as well as other benefits.

The Center for Public Representation, an organization dedicated to expanding the rights of people with disabilities, put together the following comprehensive list identifying new funding, programs, and benefits within the HEROES Act that will impact the disability community.

In a Disability Scoop article, Sarah Meek, senior director of legislative affairs for the American Network of Community Options and Resources stated that she views the HEROES Act as a “game changer.” Meek continued, “There is really a recognition that this money for home-and community-based service providers is kind of a must-have in whatever package is next, so I’m optimistic.”

The HEROES Act still has a long way to go before becoming a law. The bill narrowly passed with a vote of 208 to 199 in the Democratic led House of Representatives, with only one Republican crossing the aisle to vote yes. The HEROES Act now heads to the Republican led Senate where it faces formidable opposition due to concern about passing another multi-trillion-dollar aid package. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) passage in the bill’s current form is unlikely. He recently told NBC News, “I think we all believe that another bill probably is going to be necessary. But I’m not prepared today to put a precise date on when that will be.”


Michelle Diament. House OKs COVID-19 Relief Plan With More Payments For People With Disabilities. Disability Scoop. May 18, 2020.

Rebecca Shabad. House passes Democrats $3T coronavirus ‘HEROES’ aid: Stimulus checks, money for states, rent assistance. NBC News. May 15, 2020.

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