December 16, 2020
Below please find a summary of the bipartisan relief legislation being discussed on Capitol Hill. Hopefully, we will have additional developments to report on this coming soon. Please let us know if you have questions and what additional information would be helpful.
A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers released legislative text for their COVID-19 relief package this week as officials hit a critical “make-or-break” stretch to try and attach a deal to the FY 2021 spending measure. Two separate bills were introduced: one focusing on larger policy priorities including unemployment insurance, health care, small business and more; while the second tackles more politically controversial topics including liability protections and state and local aid. The NYS Council is closely monitoring progress, but negotiations are fluid and actively ongoing. We will continue to provide updates as more details are known about both legislative packages and funding allocations.
The bipartisan COVID-relief proposal includes $5 billion for mental health and substance use programs, including:
- $3 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
- $1.3 billion for State Opioid Response grants alongside language to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- $150 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Grants
- $340 million for substance use prevention
- $75 million for peer recovery services
- Telehealth Updates
- Authority provided to the Secretary of HHS to extend Medicare telehealth flexibilities through Dec 31, 2021
- Authority provided to the Drug Enforcement Agency to extend flexibilities to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine through Dec 31, 2021
- Calls for a study of effectiveness of telehealth during pandemic
Other key provisions of the COVID-relief packages include:
- Small Businesses. The bill would provide $300 billion for Small Business Administration that is allocated for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This includes language that seeks to simplify the loan forgiveness process and facilitate access for independent live venues. It also includes language that would provide PPP eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations with as many as 150 employees.
- Provider Relief Fund. The package includes $35 billion for the health care Provider Relief Fund (PRF). It also clarifies reporting guidelines for lost revenue calculations, and that PRF funds can be used toward staffing. Further, the bill would allow health systems to move targeted Provider Relief Fund distributions within their system.
- Health Care. The measure would provide $16 billion for coronavirus-related health care needs such as testing, tracing, and vaccine distribution. It would set aside $3.42 billion for direct grants for states, localities, and territories, as well as $2.58 billion to bolster Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine distribution and infrastructure. Further, the bill would extend flexibilities on telehealth services through December 31, 2021.
- Child Care & Nutrition. The bill would provide $10 billion for a new Child Care Stabilization Fund grants program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide grants for childcare providers. Additionally, the deal includes $13 billion toward emergency food assistance, including an increase in SNAP benefits and funding for food banks and pantries.
- Unemployment. The bill would provide $180 billion for a renewal of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program with an extra $300 per week.
- Broadband. The bill would allocate $10 billion for broadband support, including set asides for state broadband connectivity and deployment ($6 billion) and for educational connectivity and distance learning ($3 billion).
- Education. The deal includes $82 billion for education-related needs. This breakdown includes: (1) $54 billion dedicated to K-12; (2) $20 billion dedicated to higher education; and (3) $7.5 billion for the CARES Act Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund. The bill also extends the COVID-19 student loan forbearance period to April 1, 2021.
- Housing. The bill would provide $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. It also would extend the federal moratorium on evictions through January 31, 2021.
- Transit. The agreement would allocate $45 billion in emergency funding for the transportation sector, as well as an extension of the airline Payroll Support Program (PSP) through March 31, 2021.
- Community Lending. The deal would provide $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI), with set-asides to facilitate targeted emergency investments to help low-income and minority communities.