People with disabilities and the elderly face significant risks to their health and financial wellbeing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Certain disabilities and chronic illnesses can put people with disabilities and older individuals at a higher risk of severe illness or death from a COVID-19 infection, especially those that are currently in institutional care facilities.
Additionally, it may be harder for some people with disabilities to completely self-isolate and still receive the care and resources they need, such as assistance with daily living activities. Direct care workers are critical resources for people with disabilities and the elderly to live independently in home and community settings, but these workers have largely been left out of recent legislation. Direct care workers are deemed essential during the COVID-19 crisis and yet have limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies and general resources, and lack adequate compensation and benefits.
The lack of an efficiently financed, well-functioning, and broadly accessible system of universal long-term services and supports is heavily burdening American families. The economic contributions and quality of life of seniors, working-age people with disabilities, and caregivers, remain unnecessarily limited due to the lack of adequate services. These problems will only worsen in the future due to impacts of COVID-19 and the continued aging of the U.S. population.
This forum examined how a universal, social insurance based long-term services and supports program in Illinois can promote health and economic justice for seniors, people with disabilities, and direct care workers.
Executive Director, The Arc Illinois
Personal Care Assistant
Uchechi A. Mitchell
Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois Chicago
Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL 14th District)
U.S. House of Representatives
Director of Policy, Women Employed
Moderator: Marci Ybarra
Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago