December 21, 2020
See attached document for what we hope is the final version of the text of the COVID Relief bill provisions that will be voted on by the Senate at some point today.
- They add new SOR $$
- Includes $150M for CCBHCs as we reported last week) to cover extension of original demo funding plus additional SAMHSA grants
- Extend the telephonic bupe prescribing until the end of the emergency or 12/31/21.
- They also eliminate the x-waiver requirement, including patient caps, during the emergency and ask for a study on the temporary elimination (pages 244-250).
Also included is another round of the Paycheck Protection Program which will be more specific this time in that the business has to be fewer than 300 employees and they have to actually show a loss. Specifics to include:
- Businesses that received PPP loans and had them forgiven will be allowed to deduct the costs covered by those loans on their federal tax returns so long as a PPP recipient can show a loss in revenue in 2020 compared to prior years, according to a lawmaker briefed on the deal. The language ensures that churches and faith-based organizations are eligible for PPP loans.
- While the issue had been a point of contention, and the costs would be deductible under the final agreement.
- Minority businesses are given special consideration.
Some of the most popular provisions that are said to be included in the COVID Relief deal that is being described as a down payment until the Biden Administration is in place and ready to move forward on meaningful relief for states and localities.
The Package moving today does NOT include state and local assistance. Estimates currently have the need for state and local assistance at $170B. We await information regarding specifics of what is in the deal for mental health and substance use disorder providers. Last week, we sent information to members re: provisions in both the Omnibus federal budget bill as well as the Relief bill, but we are waiting for text from the actual bills before confirming those details.
Here’s what we reported last week that (at that time) was said to be included in the new federal budget deal:
- $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
Remember, there are two things happening simultaneously: a relief package, and a new federal budget. Both are moving via an Omnibus bill in which all 12 federal budget appropriation bills are embedded in one massive bill, along with the COVID relief provisions. Senator Bernie Sanders continues to call for more money in the checks being pushed out to low and middle income Americans, and Elizabeth Warren continues to voice her concerns about the process where the Senate will today be voting on bills that are not (as of this morning) available for lawmakers to review.
Numerous media outlets that focus on political and policy matters are reporting the following regarding the Relief package:
- $300 boost in weekly unemployment benefits,
- Direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child,
- $3B in Provider Relief Funds (PRF) (down from previous estimates of expected additional funding)
- $25 billion in rental assistance, and an extended eviction ban
- $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits
- $82 billion for colleges and schools
- $29B for Vaccine Distribution
- $22B for testing and tracing
- Will allow providers to use grant funds for lost revenue compared with budgeted revenue for 2020, instead of actual revenue from 2019. The tweak will allow providers to account for and keep a greater proportion of the grant funds
- $284 billion in small business rescue loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (we are told this includes an expansion of eligibility for nonprofits)
- $10B for child care
Further explanation of certain Relief bill provisions:
$166 billion in direct checks — Individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
$120 billion in extra unemployment help — Jobless workers will get an extra $300 per week in federal cash through March 14. The legislation also extends employment benefits to self-employed individuals, gig workers and those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
$325 billion small business boost — Pandemic-ravaged small businesses would see a total of $325 billion, including $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, $20 billion for businesses in low-income communities and $15 billion for struggling live venues, movie theaters and museums — a major priority for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Totaling tax breaks — The legislation allows businesses to deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans, in addition to expanding the employee retention credit intended to prevent layoffs. It includes a two-year tax break for business meals — a priority for President Donald Trump — and rolls over a variety of temporary tax breaks known as “extenders,” some for multiple years. The package also extends a payroll tax subsidy for employers offering workers paid sick leave and boosts the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Rental aid and an eviction ban — Of the $25 billion in federal rental assistance, $800 million is set aside for Native American housing entities. A federal eviction ban has been extended through the end of January.
Broadband: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase expand broadband access for students, families and unemployed workers, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
Infusion for schools and child care — Included in the $82 billion total for colleges and universities is more than $4 billion for a governors’ relief fund, more than $54 billion for public K-12 schools and nearly $23 billion for a higher education fund. Separately, the child care sector will receive about $10 billion in emergency cash.