This week the U.S. House of Representatives introduced what is called the Heroes Act, which is their 4th response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This 3 trillion dollar proposal is expected to pass the House Friday.
NAATP joined with many organizations in support of a $38.5 billion request to be used to assist providers of mental health and substance use disorder treatment. While the latest House legislative proposal did not include a specific line item for mental health and substance use disorder assistance, it does provide $100 billion for all health care providers. Those funds may be used to offset lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. The bill also provides $75 billion for testing and contact tracing.
The Heroes Act includes $1.5 billion for SAMHSA’s “Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant,” $1 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block grant, $265 million for emergency response grants to address behavioral health needs, and creates an emergency mental health and substance use disorder training and technical assistance center. The bill also provides funding for homeless individuals and Native Americans.
The proposal extends the paycheck protection program through the end of 2020 and allows non-profit organizations to utilize it, regardless of number of employees. It specifies that 25% of the funding should go to non-profits.
While the Heroes Act contains substantial assistance, which would benefit NAATP members, there is still a long road ahead. Although expected to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate has indicated they will take additional time to assess current needs and will likely significantly change the House bill.
The special focus Congress has placed on substance use disorders is very much needed and appreciated. However, we need to keep up the pressure to ensure that SUD treatment providers continue to be a priority as Congress grapples with this ongoing pandemic. NAATP members were more active on this issue than any other I’ve witnessed. Thank you! Let’s keep up the pressure. You can locate your Senator or Congressperson here.