Congress is in the final stages of writing a year-end budget, which we expect will include another round of COVID relief assistance. While the final language could change, we anticipate several programs that could be of assistance to NAATP members. These programs are intended to provide relief for the next four months, while an additional request is formulated by the incoming Biden Administration.
For those who have sustained a 30 percent revenue loss in 2020, and have less than 300 employees, we expect an additional $300 billion to be included as forgivable paycheck protection loans. We also expect the legislation to provide $35 billion to the health care provider relief fund, with a priority for those providers who were under-represented in previous disbursements or are at risk of imminent closure. As it was drafted, the proposed bill also contains $3.5 billion for the SAMHSA block grant system. Language is also included to extend tele-health prescribing through 2021 and a review of tele-health in general.
NAATP will continue to monitor developments as Congress finalizes the details of the final 2020 budget and COVID relief and protect those resources for SUD treatment providers.
We have also attempted to influence the priority list for COVID vaccinations for our members. While the final decisions are left up each individual state, we had members of Congress weigh in on our behalf and are asking our state network to engage. If your state recognized your employees as “essential” when PPE was distributed, they should be included as health care providers are prioritized. We have also heard that contacting a local hospital partner might be advised.
We are optimistic moving into 2021. President-Elect Biden has a long history of support for the SUD treatment field. He was a supporter of the original Parity law and helped make certain it was included in the Affordable Care Act. He also was key to making sure SUD treatment was included as one of the ten essential benefits.
The HHS Secretary designee, Xavier Becerra, has a long history of supporting the field both as a former Congressman and, most recently, as Attorney General of California. The former and likely future Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, also has a long history of understanding and supporting the SUD treatment field.
These individuals, along with the names being mentioned to head SAMHSA and ONDCP, give us tremendous optimism that we can move forward on issues of critical importance to our members.
As 2020 comes to an end, NAATP is focused on the possibilities in 2021 and beyond. While our issues are never easy ones to address, we are optimistic that substantial progress can and will be made.
Your support and involvement are key ingredients in making that a reality.