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October 27, 2022 | Volume 26, No. 9| Archives
Voting Resources and Action Steps for Getting Out to the Polls!
In This Issue:
  • Stimulus Check Update
  • Voting Resources
  • Voting Is Our Right
  • Administration: DOJ Voting Protections, 24/7 Mental Health Care, Federal Pardons, and More
  • Congress: Continuing Resolution, MAT Act, and Legislative Agenda
  • Courts: Reaffirming Our Rights
  • News to Know: Reproductive Rights Update
  • Substance Use Disorder and Harm Reduction News
  • COVID Corner
  • What We’re Reading
  • Good News Corner!
ACTION ALERT: Clients may still be eligible for COVID-19 stimulus payments or child tax credits. The deadline has already passed for those who filed taxes; however, non-tax filers have until November 15 to submit their forms. Find more information here
The World Is Run By People Who Show Up and Vote!
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8! Check here to see if your state has early voting and here for mail-in and absentee voting resources. Vote as soon as you can! Go to for voting information by state and to get phone numbers if you have issues on Election Day.
Did you know that only 40% of eligible voters vote in the midterm elections? 
Let’s get out there and VOTE!
See our “Closer Look” report below for in-depth updates on voting rights!
Voting and candidate education resources:
Look up your ballot ahead of time at Vote 411 so you know what to expect!
A Closer Look: Voting Is Our Right!
Since the 2020 elections, 42 restrictive voting laws have been passed in 21 states. Many of these laws implemented voter ID requirements, which disproportionately disenfranchise people of color and people experiencing homelessness (PEH). Obtaining an ID can be a near insurmountable obstacle for PEH: You need ID to obtain ID, and many PEH have lost all of their vital records when evicted or during an encampment sweep. Federal laws requiring Real IDs have made multiple forms of identification necessary for a state-issued driver’s license or state identification card. Some states require a utility bill or lease agreement as proof of address. Finding a way to pay for identification is another barrier that can be prohibitive.
The Supreme Court is hearing a case from Alabama that could further weaken the Voting Rights Act. Alabama redistricted jurisdictions for the 2022 elections, arguably to stifle the voices of Black voters. The state spread Black voters across several districts, giving their votes minimal impact, and created one district with a supermajority of Black voters. Voters in Alabama are polarized along racial lines and advocates argue that the way the districts were drawn is unconstitutional. Should the Supreme Court side with Alabama, voter discrimination will have a stricter definition and other states will likely follow suit with more intentional gerrymandering.
Hoping to secure voting rights, the Freedom to Vote Act, introduced in the Senate in 2021, is a bill that would secure voting rights for many PEH. It expands voting access, mandates same-day voter registration, and forbids purging voter rolls. It also guarantees the right to vote to people with a criminal record. Democrats say the issue of voting rights is on their legislative agenda if they retain control of Congress. It is more important than ever to vote to protect our constitutional rights.
  1. Plan for ID issues. Help consumers obtain ID in advance of Election Day and store it safely.
  2. Confirm when in-person voting begins and take advantage of early voting sites.
  3. Verify dates, locations, and times with consumers. Create a telephone tree of voting reminders.
  4. Offer transportation assistance, bring food and water, and go in groups.
  5. Reduce barriers to shelter. Encourage shelters to suspend curfews on Election Day, or assist consumers with voting before curfews.


On October 4, the Justice Department released its comprehensive plan to enforce federal statutes guaranteeing the right to voteKey points include:
- Prohibit election practices that discriminate against people of color and people with disabilities, and ensure linguistically appropriate ballots and voting assistance.
- Prohibit voter intimidation.
- Require provisional ballots for those not on voter rolls but assert that they are eligible to vote.
- Require states to offer the opportunity to register to vote through state agencies such as DMVs and social services.
TAKE ACTION: File a report with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department regarding voter intimidation or suppression.
  • On October 6, President Biden pardoned all federal prisoners convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana. This executive action affected 6,500 inmates in federal prison and the District of Columbia. President Biden acknowledged that people of color are more likely to be incarcerated for these offenses, even though whites use marijuana at a similar rate. Advocates say this is an important step in combatting systemic racism in the war on drugs. President Biden encouraged states to take similar steps, and several Democratic governors described steps they had already taken or intend to take in following President Biden’s guidance. Republican governors called this a surrender in the war on drugs.

  • On October 20, the FDA issued its final rule that allows millions of people to access over-the-counter hearing aids.

  • On October 21, HHS announced more than $100 million in grants to expand mental health services and support clinics that provide 24/7 access to care.
TAKE ACTION: Inform consumers about the pardon proclamation and how to clear their criminal records. Assist consumers with past convictions or pending court dates to update addresses to receive their certificates of pardon from the Department of Justice.


Congress has adjourned until November 14, but they have a full agenda slated for the “lame duck” session.
  • On September 30, Congress passed a continuing resolution that will fund the government until December 16. At that time, Congress must pass another continuing resolution or an omnibus package to fund the government for fiscal year 2023. The national debt has reached $31 trillion, so there is discussion of steep budget cuts that may reduce reimbursement for health care providers if Republicans win majorities in Congress.

  • Congress must include the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act in the end-of-the-year funding package. This bill would repeal the X-waiver that causes treatment barriers, and would increase access to buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is the gold standard of care for opioid use disorder and cuts the risk of overdose in half. This is particularly vital to the HCH community as our patients have higher rates of substance use disorder. The bill has already passed the house and currently has 14 Senate co-sponsors.

  • The Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect same sex marriage, and the Electoral Count Act aimed at preventing another January 6 event are also on the agenda after the mid-term elections.
TAKE ACTION: Reach out to your Senators and tell them you support the MAT Act! Tell them we can stop overdose deaths and improve access to care if they can add this measure to the end-of-year-budget. Some important talking points include:
  • Buprenorphine is a safe, effective medication for opioid use disorder which cuts the risk of overdose in half and strengthens a person’s ability to secure long-term recovery.
  • If buprenorphine were available to every person with opioid use disorder, we could save more than 30,000 lives from overdose deaths every year.
You can find additional talking points here. Here is a contact list of Senators from every state.


On September 28, the ruling in Johnson vs. City of Grants Pass upheld Martin vs. Boise and was a victory in the fight against the criminalization of homelessness. 
TAKE ACTION: The National Homelessness Law Center spearheaded this case. Support their Housing Not Handcuffs campaign. 


Reproductive Health
Three months after Dobbs vs. Jackson, 66 women’s health clinics have closed across the United States and now 58% of women live in a state hostile to abortion. Because the language regarding threats to the life of the mother are ambiguous, some patients cannot get treatment for dangerous pregnancies or are refused cancer treatment. Despite President Biden’s executive order, many states that support abortion rights are hesitant to use Medicaid funds to ensure abortion access for out-of-state residents.
On October 4, President Biden announced allocation of an additional $6 million for family planning to clinics that provide these services at low cost or for free. Advocates are also pressuring the FDA to change the labeling for mifepristerone (also used for medication abortion) to treat miscarriages.
For information on the abortion laws for your state, click here.
TAKE ACTION: Inform and assist patients in filing HIPAA complaints about patient privacy and civil rights complaints about reproductive health care discrimination. Offer family planning services with each patient visit.
Substance Use Disorder and Harm Reduction
  • On September 28, more than 100 medical experts wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to remove the Schedule I classification for synthetic opioids including fentanyl. They followed up with a similar letter to Congress on October 7. Studying synthetic opioids may produce therapeutic drugs to combat opioid use disorder; the Schedule I classification makes it difficult to do this lifesaving research.

  • San Francisco has a new overdose prevention plan with the goal of cutting overdoses 15% by 2025. The plan includes the creation of drop-in wellness hubs. While not safe consumption sites, these areas provide rest and care for persons struggling with substance use disorder.

  • The Office of National Drug Control Policy released an action plan to promote treatment of pregnant women with substance use disorder. The plan outlines steps to foster partnerships, improve maternal outcomes, and expand dedicated HHS staffing. 


Public Health Emergency: The PHE was officially extended on October 13. It is now scheduled to end on January 11, 2023. Read our issue brief, Medicaid Redeterminations & the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Implications for the HCH Community, to learn about the very serious implications of the end of the PHE and what it will mean for Medicaid recipients in your community.
Booster Shots:  Boosters have been recommended for individuals five years old and older for several months; now, everyone eligible for a booster shot will receive a bivalent dose. The CDC is recommending that everyone ages five years and older receive the bivalent booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. This includes anyone who received an original (monovalent) booster. To find out if you are eligible, use the CDC’s Find Out When You Can Get Your Booster quiz. 
Reminder: Anyone with insurance (public or private) remains eligible for free COVID tests. Individuals can receive eight tests every 30 days through their insurance. To receive these tests, contact your local pharmacy to learn about their process. 
What We're Reading
Good News Corner!
We are often sharing bad policy news, but we’re committed to finding good policy news out there! Here are stories we found this month that lifted our spirits:
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Corinne Lovett
Health Policy Manager
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1445

This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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