Taking Action: 2021 Federal Advocacy Priorities

Posted by Reeve Foundation Staff in Daily Dose on March 12, 2021 # Advocacy and Policy

In 2020, despite the entire world pivoting to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Reeve advocates tenaciously contacted Congress about the policy needs of the paralysis community. In 2020, Reeve advocates and Regional Champions sent 10,647 emails and letters to Congressional offices, and 1,676 people took action for the first time! Our online advocates grew by 20%. Our Regional Champions continued to develop personal relationships with their Representatives and Senators and share what it is really like living and caring for those with paralysis, especially during this very difficult time. Below is a recap of what we -- the Reeve advocates -- accomplished for the many millions of Americans living with paralysis in 2020:

  • Increased COVID-19 relief and advocated for the needs of the paralysis community. Several massive bills were passed into law, providing individuals and families with economic stimulus payments, extended unemployment, eviction moratorium and expanded access to telehealth. Reeve advocates were relentless in educating Congress about the critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals, paid leave for caregivers and dedicated resources for home and community-based services. Finally, the Reeve Foundation is working to ensure that the community receives up-to-date information about how and when to best access a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Maintained federal resources for the National Paralysis Resource Center at $9.7 million for Fiscal Year ‘21. This was a huge win, especially since the world came to a halt because of the pandemic, and so many federal resources were dedicated to so many aspects of the virus and its impact on the country. This $9.7 million includes $1 million for the Administration for Community Living’s Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) State Pilot Program grants, which are not operated by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
  • Increased research funding for SCI and paralysis at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DOD). The NIH experienced a funding increase of a total of $1.25 billion dollars to $42.9 billion. The Fiscal Year ‘21 Defense Appropriations Act provides $40 million to the Department of Defense Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) to support innovative, high-impact spinal cord injury (SCI) research.
  • Made permanent 7.5 % medical expense deduction. As a result of our sustained advocacy, Americans will get a permanent break on the deductibility of out-of-pocket medical expenses. The threshold for claiming the medical expense deduction was set to climb to 10% for 2021, but the law lowers the threshold to 7.5%—permanently—a win for Americans with high health care costs, especially people with disabilities.

Looking forward to 2021

This year, the Reeve Foundation will continue to work to enhance and grow our online network of advocates and increase participation in our Regional Champions program. Our goal is to increase online advocates to 10,000, which we know we can achieve. The dedication of so many in 2020 created real change, and we only want to expand our efforts.

We will continue to aim to train a Regional Champion in every congressional district across the country. These Champions will serve as legislative “first responders,” sending emails and making phone calls to elected officials when important issues arise, as well as develop relationships with legislators and key staff; recruit others to join our advocacy efforts, and work with the Reeve Foundation to share your story via photos, videos, and blog posts across our digital channels.

If you are interested in learning about what is on our radar for this year, please review our 2021 federal advocacy priorities. Thank you to those who participated in our survey earlier this year, soliciting feedback about what is important to you.

Get connected!

We do not want you to miss the opportunity to use your voice when it is needed most. There are times when we only have days to weigh in, so it is critical that you become an online advocate to keep abreast of important updates and take action when critical policy issues are being discussed in Congress. We also know Congress not only continues to fund the PRC but has continued to provide funding increases because of your advocacy and persistence. We must remain diligent.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the Reeve Foundation’s Regional Champions program, please contact Chris Carson at [email protected]

Again, thank you to every advocate that took action in 2020. We came together under very arduous circumstances. Your voice improves the lives of those in our community and creates a lasting impact for years to come.

Become a Reeve Advocate

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.