Addiction Policy News

Senate Republicans Introduce the HEALS Act: A Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 27, 2020

 

On July 27, Senate Republicans released the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, a $1 trillion legislative package to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes a number of bills designed to maintain and access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.

 

American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act 

  • Ensures that the expansion of telehealth in Medicare through flexibilities made available during the public health emergency are maintained through the length of the public health emergency, or December 31, 2021, whichever is later. Additionally, ensures Congress has a full analysis of the impact of expanded telehealth and the opportunity to legislate before flexibilities expire. 
  • Specifies that the expansion of telehealth in Medicare for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) provided in the CARES Act continues for five years beyond the end of the public health emergency. It enables beneficiaries to receive telehealth from FQHC and RHCs serving as a distant site regardless of where they are located, including in their own home.

 

Coronavirus Response Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act

  • Appropriates $4.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration including: 
    • Mental Health Services Block Grant - $2 billion, of which, no less than 50 percent of funds shall go directly to facilities as defined here.
    • Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grant - $1.5 billion 
    • Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics - $600 million 
    • Emergency Grants to States - $250 million for flexible emergency grants to states
    • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund – $25 billion for the Health Care Provider Relief Fund

 

Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act 

  • Rescinds $100 billion in previously appropriated funds from the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Appropriates $190 billion in funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and Second Draw Loans, $57.7 billion for Recovery Sector Loans, and $10 billion for the Small Business Growth and Domestic Production Investment Facility.
  • Makes significant changes to the parameters and eligibility of the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy Act’ or the ‘‘SAFE TO WORK Act’’ 

  • Creates liability protections for health care providers, including doctors, nurses, facilities, administrators and volunteers offering treatment, diagnosis, or care of coronavirus, or care directly affected by the coronavirus.

 

Read the AMA's summary here.

 

Read a summary of the American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act here

 

Read a summary of the Coronavirus Response Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act here.

 

Read a summary of the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act here.

 

Read a summary of the SAFE TO WORK Act here.