The House Appropriations Committee made its priorities clear last week, approving its first bill of the year. The fiscal year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS) funding bill, considered first in the L-HHS subcommittee on April 30th, was approved by the full House Appropriations Committee in a marathon markup on May 8th.
The L-HHS bill, in its entirety, represents an increase of nearly $12 billion over 2019 levels and an $8.5 billion increase for HHS alone, which supports many of the nation’s most critical treatment and recovery initiatives. Importantly, the Subcommittee also allocated nearly $6 billion to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The legislation builds on commitments made in FY19 to stem the nation’s addiction crisis and also delivered funds to three new behavioral health programs aimed at enhancing treatment efforts. Substance use prevention funding also received an additional $7 million above 2019 levels.
Last month in advance of appropriations season, NAADAC members from across the country descended on Capitol Hill to underline the importance of investing in the nation’s addiction workforce. NAADAC was pleased by the Committee’s commitment to many of those key programs, including:
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA):
- National Health Service Corps: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which helps provide care to underserved communities, received $120,000,000 to provide primary care, including expanding the delivery of substance abuse programs.
- Loan Repayment Program for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce: This important new program, known as the Loan Repayment for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce Program, received full funding for FY20 ($25 million). Under this program, addiction professionals could be eligible to receive student loan repayment assistance in exchange for their work in underserved areas.
- Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Workforce Training Program: This pilot program aims to close the treatment gap by addressing critical shortages of professionals treating SUD populations. The committee provided $10,000,000.
- Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training: The Committee included a total of $85,000,000 for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Grant Program (BHWET), $10,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 enacted levels. BHWET is a critical program that supports field placement programs in behavioral health.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA):
- Minority Fellowship Program (MFP): The MFP received a $2million increase in funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The bill also included language underlining the importance of supporting a diverse workforce and its effectiveness in addressing substance use disorders in minority and underserved populations.
- Peer Support Centers: We are pleased that the committee allocated $2,000,000 to fund Peer Support Centers.
- Building Communities of Recovery Program: The purpose of the Building Communities of Recovery program is to mobilize resources within and outside of the recovery community to increase the prevalence and quality of long-term recovery support. We are pleased the Appropriations Committee allocated $6,000,000 to this vital program.
- State Opioid Response Grants: The Support for Patients and Communities Act (P.L. 115-271) authorized increased funding for states to administer substance abuse prevention programs. The Committee allocated $1.5 billion for these grants, further evidence that lawmakers remain focused on addressing the the opioid crisis in the 116th Congress.
In addition to these programs, the House L-HHS Appropriations bill for FY2020 made important investments in substance use disorder research. Combined, the spending bill represents a critical step in addressing the addiction crisis in America.
With that in mind, we urge you to contact your Representative and urge them to continue fighting for these vital programs. The FY20 L-HHS Appropriations bill supports treatment and recovery services for countless Americans battling substance use disorders across the country. Call on your lawmakers to support this important legislation when it comes to the House floor for full consideration.