Addiction Policy News

House Democrats Introduce The Heroes Act: A New Legislative Package to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

May 12, 2020


On May 12, House Democrats introduced H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion dollar legislative package to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation includes a number of provisions designed to maintain and increase access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.


  • $915 billion for State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds which will be used to help first responders, frontline health workers, transit employees, teachers, and other workers providing vital services to states, localities, territories and tribes. Funds can be used for COVID-related expenses, to replace foregone revenues not projected on January 31, 2020, or to respond to negative economic impacts of COVID-19.


  • $3 billion to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  to increase mental health support, substance use disorder treatment, and outreach. This funding includes $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, $1 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, and $265 million for emergency response grants to address immediate behavioral health needs as a result of COVID-19, among other provisions.


  • Establishment of a technical assistance center at SAMHSA that will support public or nonprofit entities and public health professionals seeking to establish or expand access to mental health and substance use services associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency.


  • An additional $100 billion to the Health Care Provider Relief Fund to reimburse hospitals and health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from COVID-19.


  • Changes to Medicaid which would allow states to restart Medicaid coverage for eligible individuals who are incarcerated for the 30 days prior to their release. The bill would also require the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) to study the effect of completely eliminating the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion. 


  • An increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs by a total of 14 percentage points starting in July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.


  • $75 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other activities necessary to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19.


  • $200 million to the Bureau of Prisons to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 in Federal prisons, including funding for medical testing and services, personal protective equipment, hygiene supplies and services, and sanitation services.


  • $7.6 billion to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support expanded health care services for underserved populations, including $7.6 billion for health centers to expand the capacity to provide testing, triage, and care for COVID-19 and other health care services. Additionally, provides 10 million to Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics to support extended operational hours, increased staffing hours, additional equipment, and additional home delivered meals and transportation needs of clients.



The bill is expected to pass the House on Friday, and it will then head to the Senate for consideration.


Read the bill here.


Read the one pager here.


Read the summary here.


Read the AMA's summary of the bill here.