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Shelley Starkey

Congress Passes “Phase 3.5” COVID-19 Response Package

April 23, 2020 | COVID-19 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Congress has reached a $484 billion deal on a “Phase 3.5” legislative package to provide funding for pressing needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deal provides an additional $321 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which recently ran out of funds, as well as another $10 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. It also provides $75 billion for health care providers via the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, supplementing the $100 billion provided in the CARES Act.  The bill now moves to President Trump’s desk for his signature, which is expected as early as today.


The Phase 3.5 COVID-19 response package infuses more emergency funds into programs that were established in the CARES Act, including:

  • Paycheck Protection Program: The package provides $321 billion to replenish the PPP, which provides forgivable loans for small businesses to maintain operations throughout the pandemic. The program ran out of money to disburse last week, and awaits passage of the 3.5 package to continue supporting small businesses and nonprofits. Two pools of $30 billion each will be designated for supporting PPP loans by institutions with (1) less than $10 billion in assets and (2) between $10 billion and $50 billion in assets.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans: The bill provides another $10 billion for EIDL loans, which provide up to $2 million of financial assistance to eligible small businesses. The bill also makes farms and other agricultural enterprises eligible for EIDL grants and loans.
  • Health Care: The bill provides $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and health care providers, in addition to the $100 billion that was provided in the CARES Act. Mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers are eligible for these funds, and eligibility criteria remains the same as in the CARES Act. The first $30 billion from these funds have been allocated to Medicare providers, and the National Council is working with federal agencies and lawmakers to ensure the next allotment of funds reach Medicaid providers.
  • COVID-19 Tests: The package provides $25 billion for researching, developing, and expanding capacity for COVID-19 tests. $11 billion of this amount would be distributed to states, with the rest being distributed across federal agencies.


The National Council applauds Congress for its quick work to supplement important programs that have been stood up to support businesses and health care providers throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, much work remains to be done, and behavioral health providers cannot be left behind. With Congress now turning its attention to a fourth relief package, take two minutes today to urge your Members of Congress to appropriate $38.5 billion in emergency funds for providers of mental health and addiction treatment services.