Federal Update

February 10, 2021

Yesterday, House Democrats released details of their proposed COVID Relief Package, which includes support for President Biden’s proposal for $350 billion in funding for state and local governments.  (See attached document for House Energy and Commerce Full Committee markup.)

As you know, NYS has requested $15 billion in federal funds, to support all of the areas of our state budgets (current and future) that have been or will be depleted as a result of ongoing expenses associated with the pandemic.

Yesterday, Buffalo Representative Brian Higgins publicly discussed the work of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, stating that the Committee estimated New York would receive $12.665 billion of the $15 billion Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been counting on if the Biden American Relief Act were to be enacted as currently proposed; however, it should be noted that negotiations are ongoing and Senate Republicans remain reluctant to buy in to the top line funding request embedded in Biden’s request.

Here are some (proposed) COVID Relief Package provisions embedded in the House package:

  • $3.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health block grant programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  • Enhanced Federal Medicaid Support for Bundled Community-Based Mobile Crisis Intervention Services to incentivize state Medicaid programs to cover mobile crisis intervention services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis.
  • $80 million for mental and behavioral health training for health care professionals, para-professionals, and public safety officers including
  • $20 million for a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals and first responders, and
  • $40 million for grants for health care providers to promote mental and behavioral health among their health professional workforce.
  • $80 million to develop new grant programs at SAMHSA to allow additional entities, such as community-based entities and behavioral health organizations, to receive grants to support mental health and substance use disorder services.
  • This provision provides $10 million for the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network, an existing SAMHSA program that works to develop and promote effective community practices for children and adolescents exposed to a wide array of traumatic events.
  • It also provides $50 million for existing SAMHSA grant programs that support youth mental health services and suicide prevention efforts.
  • $100 million to the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program, which is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to expand access to behavioral health services through focused training for behavioral health paraprofessionals, such as peer support specialists.
  • $420 million for mental and behavioral health prevention and treatment services among Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations

Medicaid Reentry Act
There have been a number of developments related to the Medicaid Reentry Act this week:

Background:  The Medicaid Reentry Act was introduced in both the House (HR 955) and the Senate (S 285) on Monday.  Both bills are bipartisan, a list of original co-sponsors is copied (below).  The NYS Council has signed on as a supporter of the Act and we are again working closely with Congressman Paul Tonko’s Office to push it forward.

We were pleased to see last night that the Medicaid Reentry Act has been included in the House Energy and Commerce portion of the COVID relief bill.  This is very encouraging.

Lastly, today the lead Medicaid Reentry Act sponsors will be jointly engaging with the media about the critical need for the Medicaid Reentry Act to become law. As stakeholders who recognize that Medicaid Reentry is a key component of COVID relief, overdose and suicide prevention for people returning home from incarceration, and greater health equity and public health, please join advocates across the country to amplify messages on Twitter. Please see the attached toolkit with sample Tweets to help you, your organization, and your networks to weigh in today in support of the Medicaid Reentry.   

In your outreach and social media postings, please consider giving special shoutouts to Congressman Tonko, Senator Baldwin, and Congressman Turner for their long-time support of the bill.

HR 955 sponsors:

Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY)

Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH)

Congressman David Trone (D-MD)

Congressman David McKinley (R-WV)

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL)

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL)

S 285 sponsors:

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Senator Mike Braun (R-IN)

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)