Late yesterday, Congress passed major legislation (a bill combining the FY 2021 federal budget and COVID-relief provisions) that includes big wins for mental health — provisions that NAMI fought for that will benefit people with mental health conditions as well as nonprofits, like NAMI state and local organizations.
This legislation is especially critical given the dramatic increases in people experiencing mental health conditions during this pandemic. “NAMI thanks Congress for passing the COVID-19 relief package and new federal budget,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. “While there is always progress to be made, this bill is a big step in the right direction. Mental health is a crisis within the COVID-19 pandemic and will have long-lasting effects that cannot be ignored. Continued investment now and in the future is essential for addressing the increased need of people struggling with mental health conditions.”
Over the last eight months, NAMI has been fighting for mental health to be included in this package. NAMI advocates sent tens of thousands of emails and held dozens of meetings with their elected officials to demand that mental health care be included. Thanks to their efforts, the legislation includes:
Wins in the COVID-19 Package
- $4.25 billion for SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, including $1.65 billion for the community mental health block grant, $600 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers and $50 million for Project AWARE (school-based mental health)
- “Surprise medical billing:” Limits the liability of patients who receive unexpected bills for treatment from out-of-network providers
- Requires Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) to be covered by state Medicaid programs, ensuring vital transportation to medical and mental health appointments
- Paycheck Protection Program: Provides addition funding and enables some organizations to apply for a second round of funding
The package also includes the federal fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget, which had been running on a series of continuing resolutions since the budget year began on Oct. 1. The federal budget includes notable increases for mental health:
Key Increases in the FY2021 Budget
Department of Justice (DOJ)
- $35 million or the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), a $2 million increase
- $7.5 million for a grant program to provide officer training on responding to individuals with mental illness or disabilities
- $25 million for the veterans’ treatment courts program
Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
- $227 billion for Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program (Section 811 vouchers), a $25 million increase
- $3 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance, a $220 million increase
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- $2.103 billion for research, a $65 million increase
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- $6.015 billion for the agency, an increase of $133 million
- $757.5 million for the community mental health services block grant, including a NEW $35 million block grant set-aside for crisis services, a NAMI priority
- $24 million for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an increase of $5 million
- $250 million for CCBHCs, a $50 million increase
Veterans Administration (VA)
- $10.3 billion for Health and Suicide Prevention Programs, a $865 million increase
- $815 million for Medical and Prosthetic Research, a $15 million increase
NAMI celebrates increased funding for many of our priorities, but we will continue to advocate to ensure better access to telehealth (the bill limits extension of telehealth to people with a pre-existing relationship with a provider), for passage of the Medicaid Reentry Act, which would allow Medicaid coverage for people leaving criminal justice settings, and for increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which would help states fund their Medicaid programs.
Thank your legislators here.
Learn more in our funding overview.