On Tuesday, House Democrats introduced the Heroes Act, a new $3 trillion stimulus package to address the COVID-19 pandemic, to maintain and increase access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.
The package included $1.1 trillion in funding for health-related programs.
As part of the package, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) would receive $3 billion for mental health support, substance use disorder treatment, and outreach. The funding would include $1.5 billion for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grants, $1 billion for Community Mental Health Services Block Grants, and $265 million for emergency response grants for behavioral health needs arising from COVID-19. The bill would also create a technical assistance center at SAMSHA to support public and non-profit organizations and public health professionals who want to create or expand access to mental health and substance use services related to COVID-19.
The package would also provide $915 billion for State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds to help first responders, frontline health workers, transit employees, teachers, and other essential employees. The funds would be available for COVID-19 expenses, to replace lost revenue, or to respond to other negative economic impacts of the public health crisis.
An additional $100 billion would be set aside in a Health Care Provider Relief Fund to reimburse hospitals and health care providers for expenses lost because of the COVID-19 health emergency.
Other health-related provisions include:
• Changes to Medicaid that allow states to restart Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals 30 days before their release.
• An increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
• $75 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other activities necessary to track COVID-19.
• $200 million to the Bureau of Prisons to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19 in Federal prisons.
• $7.6 billion to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support expanded health care services for underserved populations.
• $10 million to Ryan White HIV/AIDS
The bill is expected to pass the House on Friday, before heading to the Senate for consideration.
Senate Republicans have already said they have no intention of passing the bill. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) stated, “It’s a liberal wish list. It actually lacks credibility.”