August 2020 – Public Policy Blast

August 2020
Policy Update
Currently the lawmakers have all returned home without reaching an accord on the following bill.

We encourage you to reach out to your representatives during the recess.

On the Hill…

Phase 4

The Senate has finally introduced it’s “Phase 4” COVID-19 response legislation, entitled the HEALS Act. While it is flawed (in the sense that there is no current consensus for its passage), there is a moderate degree of optimism for progress in the struggle against substance use disorders and overdoses.


While the House, in the HEALS act, decided on $3 billion for SAMHSA, the Senate proposed the even higher amount of $4.5 billion. However, both the House and Senate proposed the amount of $1.5 billion for the SAPT block grant. The difference comes in two areas: The Senate proposes an extra $1 billion for the Mental Health Services Block Grant ($2 billion total), and an additional $600 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers.

What that means

While this $1.5 billion for the SAPT block grant could conceivably boost funding for recovery, Faces & Voices is not content to rely on the judgement of 56 different state and territory governments.

This is why we have engaged in a joint effort with Young People in Recovery, and the Partnership to End Addiction, to ask Congress for funding dedicated to recovery support services.

Our request centered around $50 million in discretionary grants for recovery support organizations, and additional $5 million dedicated to support services for families with a member in recovery. The latter request is based on legislation introduced in February by Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Trone, which would establish a new grant program at SAMHSA specifically for family recovery support. So long as no deal is reached in the Senate on this COVID package and negotiations continue, we will continue to advocate for the inclusion of funds specific to recovery.

Virtual Community Support Act

Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Congressman Tony Cárdenas introduced the Virtual Community Support Act to strengthen community based and peer support services virtually both during and after the pandemic. It would create a new program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide training and development to increase the workforce, enable providers and peers to move their services virtually, and help identify and coordinate care for those who need access to multiple services. After discussions with Mr. Kennedy’s staff, we are confident that the legislation is beneficial to recovery community organizations, and they will be eligible to apply for grants under the legislation if it becomes law. Faces & Voices is listed as an organization that endorses the legislation on Mr. Kennedy’s website.

Medicaid Reentry Act

The Medicaid Reentry Act, which was included in the House-approved HEROES Act, would allow Medicaid to finance health care (including physical, mental health, and substance use disorder care) in the last 30 days of incarceration, improving continuity of care and health outcomes for people returning to the community from jails and prison.

Click below to see the full letter to Congress signed by Faces & Voices and over 120 national, state, and local organizations.

Full Letter Here