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Four Things You Need to Know Right Now

Four Things You

Need to Know Right Now

Policy we're working on right now:

Access to Health Care in the time of COVID-19

The pandemic revealed that Tennessee’s 2016 guidance for rationing health scare resources during a public health emergency were in violation of Section 504 and Section 1557, specifically providing “guidance” that excludes people with “advanced neuromuscular disease” who require “assistance with activities of daily living or requiring chronic ventilatory support,” from accessing critical care, including ventilators. The Tennessee Disability Coalition, alongside Disability Rights TN, and 20+ other individuals and organizations submitted a formal complaint to Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Civil Rights in Washington, DC. In response to a complaint filed by disability rights advocates (View complaint), the Tennessee Department of Health and COVID-19 Unified Command have revised the “Guidance for the Ethical Allocation of Scarce Resources During a Community-Wide Public Health Emergency as Declared by the Governor of Tennessee.” The revised document replaces the prior version released in July 2016.


Know Your Health Care Rights in the time of COVID-19

No one can deny emergency healthcare just because of a disability. We developed a one-page document affirming these rights, including your right to bring a family member or other helper with you and to get the type of communication you need including an ASL interpreter or other communication supports.

If you have a problem with a doctor or hospital during COVID019, call Disability Rights Tennessee at 1-800-342-1660 or go to www.disabilityrightstn.org/get-help

Download the pdf

Download the txt


Special Education & Related Services During COVID-19

Students and parents were faced with tough choices regarding the safest setting for returning to learn in Fall 2020.

As school systems continue to adapt, creativity and contingency plans will be key. Engaging a diverse set of stakeholders including students, families, educators and the broader community in plan development and implementation will ensure that these include the highest-priorities. Plans with a range of in-person and remote learning options will help meet differing needs of students and be available should intermittent closures be necessary. 

Alongside our partners in education advocacy, the Coalition developed the following guidelines for safe access to special education during the pandemic.

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Paid Family Caregiving

There is an acute shortage of nurses, home health aides and personal care attendants, referred to collectively as direct support professionals (DSPs). The shortage was documented by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury in April 2017 and January 2019 reports. The pandemic has turned the shortage into a crisis.

To address this crisis, we requested that TennCare use Section 1135 flexibilities to allow for paid family caregivers on a temporary basis until the national emergency is over. Other states’successful programs rely on paid family members during this pandemic to provide an array of services in accordance with a patient’s authorized plan of care when professional staff are unavailable.

Download our one pager on paid family caregiving in txt


If you would like more information or to get engaged in our current policy efforts call: 615-383-9442 or email: jeff_s@tndisability.org