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Stabenow-Blunt bill would boost funds for mental health

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, said Wednesday they’re introducing legislation this month to significantly boost funding to expand community mental health and behavioral health services across the country.

The bill aims to fund mental health planning grants in 24 states, including Michigan, through an initiative based on their 2014 Excellence in Mental Health Act. Under the current law, funding is limited to eight states.

Twenty-four states were selected in October to work with interested community mental health centers, federally qualified health centers, veterans clinics and other mental health organizations to design a state program that meets the new standards for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers.

“This expansion is critical in making sure communities across the country have the resources they need to improve the lives of everyone living with mental illness,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Each and every state that came forward with a plan to increase access to community mental health services should have the support they need.”

Blunt noted that one in four U.S. adults have a behavioral health issue that is both diagnosable and treatable.

“Ensuring that they have access to the mental health services they need is vital to strengthening our communities and keeping Americans safe,” Blunt said in a statement. “The legislation Senator Stabenow and I are introducing later this month will build on that success by expanding the eight-state pilot program created by the Excellence Act to all 24 states that are currently applying for the demonstration.”

The senators’ Excellence in Mental Health Act was signed into law in 2014. It focused on improving quality standards and fully funding community services, offering patients increased services such as 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling and integrated services for mental illness.

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