07/28/2020 - Monday afternoon, Senate leadership revealed a draft of the of the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act coronavirus relief package. The current draft does not include the Academy's critical priorities to support marginalized communities including a boost to SNAP, emergency relief for school nutrition programs, increased access to obesity treatment and funding to diversify allied health professions to provide culturally appropriate interventions. Also missing from the HEALS Act is emergency funding for senior nutrition programs.
The bill does provide $200 million for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and $1.6 billion for the Indian Health Service. In addition, the HEALS Act extends Medicare's telehealth waiver authority through December 2021, essentially decoupling it from the public health emergency declaration.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted marginalized and minoritized communities. We must enact effective policies to improve assistance for those at greatest risk for complications, including people with obesity and those who are food insecure. Contact your Senators now and tell them to make nutrition a priority in the final version of the bill:
Today, the Academy urged Senator leaders to include critical nutrition provisions in the next COVID-19 stimulus package. In the letter, the Academy asked for the following:
Invest in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Boost the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent
- Increase the monthly minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30
Invest in Recovery Efforts for School Nutrition and Child Care Programs
- Provide emergency relief funds to school nutrition and child care programs to account for the maintenance of staff and benefit expenditures incurred during school closures despite a significant decrease in revenue from lower meal participation
Support Obesity Treatment Efforts
- Include the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (S. 595/H.R. 1530) to improve access to obesity care in Medicare
Investment in Helping Minority Students Become Allied Health Professionals
- Provide $300 million in targeted Department of Education funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other minority serving institutions to strengthen and grow their allied health education programs, including in nutrition and dietetics.
- Provide $10 million in outreach funding to encourage underrepresented racial/ethnic students to pursue careers in nutrition.
The Academy will continue to monitor the bill's progress and provide updates.