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Shelley Starkey

House Unveils COVID-19 Response Proposal

May 15, 2020 | COVID-19 | Federal Budget | Comments
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The House of Representatives this week proposed a $3 trillion COVID-19 response package, called the Health Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill includes a number of provisions that would support behavioral health providers, including $3 billion for various programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, $100 billion for the Health Care Provider Relief Fund, as well as a codified application process and formula for providers to access the funds, eligibility expansions for nonprofits in the Paycheck Protection Program, and more. Although these provisions are steps forward for the nation’s coronavirus response, the National Council continues to push for more direct supports for behavioral health providers, including our main ask of $38.5 billion in emergency funds.

The HEROES Act includes the following provisions that most directly impact the National Council’s members:


  • $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant
  • $1 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
  • $100 million for Project AWARE, which includes Mental Health First Aid in schools
  • $10 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
  • $265 million for emergency response grants to address immediate behavioral health needs as a result of COVID-19
  • $25 million for the Suicide Lifeline and Disaster Distress Helpline
  • $150 million for tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes across a variety of programs
  • Establishes a technical assistance center at SAMHSA that will support public or nonprofit entities and public health professionals seeking to establish or expand access to mental health and substance use services associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Authorizes SAMHSA to award grants to support local, tribal, and state substance use efforts that need further assistance as a result of COVID-19 for the purposes of:
    • Preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases the consequences of such diseases for individuals living with SUD
    • Overdose education, counseling, and health education for individuals at risk of SUD


  • $100 billion to make payments under the Health Care Provider Relief Fund
    • Grants for hospitals and health care providers to be reimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from coronavirus. The bill also establishes a program for distributing these funds to include an application for providers and specific formulas to determine “health care related expenses and lost revenue.”
      • Eligible expenses for reimbursement include medical supplies and PPE, retention of workforce, building or construction of temporary structures and more
      • Lost revenues determined by net patient revenue from corresponding 2019 quarter minus net patient revenue in 2020 minus savings during the calendar quarter attributable to foregone wages, payroll taxes, etc.
    • $75 billion for expenses necessary for testing, contact tracing, and other activities necessary to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19


  • The covered period, previously set to expire on June 30, 2020, is extended to December 31, 2020
    • The previously established loan period of 8 weeks has been extended to 24 weeks
  • Eligibility, previously limited, is expanded to all 501(c)s, included those with in excess of 500 employees
    • Establishes a carve out of 25% of existing funds for nonprofits regardless of size, at least half of which (12.5%) is allocated for nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees
  • Removes the limitation, previously set to 25%, on the non-payroll portion of a forgivable loan


  • Directs NIMH to support research on the mental health consequences of COVID-19, including the impact on health care providers.


  • Designates 9-8-8 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • Allows states to impose a fee or charge on voice service subscribers’ bills for the support or implementation of 9-8-8 services for the support of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • Requires the FCC to evaluate and submit a report to Congress on the feasibility and cost of automatically providing the dispatchable location of calls to 9-8-8
  • Requires SAMHSA to submit a report to Congress that details a strategy for offering support or providing technical assistance for training programs for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors to increase competency in serving LGBTQ youth