December 28, 2020
Yesterday President Trump signed the bill that embeds language and provisions for a new federal budget plus the COVID Relief package we told you about last week. The President’s failure to act decisively by signing the bill in a timely way delays unemployment checks to tens of millions of Americans including voters in Georgia where a runoff election is taking place and will conclude on January 6. The Georgia vote holds the key to which party will hold the majority in the Senate, making the President’s recent actions both morally reprehensible and truly inexplicable. Nevertheless, the federal government will remain open, unemployment checks will go out this week, the eviction moratorium is extended, stimulus checks are on the way to eligible Americans and the COVID Relief Package will be implemented. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Hopefully this development will lead to passage of a far more robust package of aid to include meaningful state and aid. assistance.
If nothing else, last week showed us just how ‘fluid’ state decisions as to who should get the COVID vaccine first really are. As of today, staff and clients in licensed OMH licensed congregate level settings, and staff working in OASAS congregate level settings are cleared to receive the vaccine and employers outside of NYC should immediately identify a community healthcare provider (FQHC, hospital) for purposes of vaccinating these individuals. In NYC, the process is slightly different. We spoke to representatives at DoHMH who told us that providers are encouraged to find a ‘natural partner’ FQHC (not a hospital)to administer the vaccine to eligible staff and clients, or to call DoHMH for help identifying an FQHC. On Friday the Executive pulled back earlier information that said OTPs were in the first and second week prioritization schedule updating the message that at this point ‘no outpatient settings are included in prioritization, including ambulatory, urgent care, OMH licensed clinics, etc.’ and going on to say that ‘ambulatory and outpatient settings will be considered for addition in future updates based on allocation.’
The NYS Council continues to push state leaders to reverse any and all delays in the prioritization of clients in OASAS congregate level settings as well as OTPs and others who are still working face to face with behavioral health care recipients until later in the Phase 1 schedule, to include ambulatory and outpatient staff and clients. Hopefully with pressure, the Administration will reverse its’ decision immediately.