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Congress Passes COVID Relief

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As it’s final action, Congress passed a budget also containing money for specific COVID-19 relief programs. Even though it took many months to reach this point, we are appreciative of the relief these various programs provide, many of which will be accessible to NAATP members.

Included in the package were appropriations of $4.25 billion for mental health and substance use programs above and beyond regular FY 2021 spending, including $1.65 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. It also included $1.65 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, with no less than 50% of funds directed to behavioral health providers and $600 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Expansion Grants to be allocated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Other provisions that NAATP members may find useful is the appropriation of $325 billion for the Small Business Administration is allocated for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This includes eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations with up to 300 employees.

The final package provides an additional $9 billion in support for health care providers including $3 billion in grants for hospital and health care providers to be reimbursed for health care related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from coronavirus, along with direction to allocate not less than 85% of unobligated funds in the Provider Relief Fund through an application-based portal to reimburse health care providers for financial losses incurred in 2020.

The legislative package also accomplished several other NAATP priorities around Parity where federal agencies were directed to ensure that the Parity Act is enforced and requires that random audits be conducted.

Telehealth is another positive contained in the bill.  It expands access to telehealth services in Medicare to allow beneficiaries to receive mental health and SUD treatment services via telehealth, including from the beneficiary’s home. Provided that the patient has been seen in person at least once in the previous 6 months.  The final text also calls for a study of the effectiveness of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAATP applauds the bi-partisan effort needed to secure passage of this much-needed relief.