Missouri to pilot mental health program
October 10, 2017 | By Danielle Brown
Missouri is one of eight states that will be participating a pilot program that aims to treat mental health like all other health problems.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) spoke on Missouri’s participation in a pilot program on Tuesday while visiting Northeast Family Health in Kirksville. Blunt’s visit was a part of a statewide tour to discuss the program.
“Essentially, in more places than not in the United States today, we’ve turned law enforcement and the emergency room into the de facto mental health delivery system for the country and nobody benefits from that,” Blunt said on Tuesday.
The pilot program was created through the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which was was sponsored by Blunt and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and signed into law in 2014.
According to a press release from Blunt’s office, the law puts “community mental health centers on an equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and offering patients increased services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling and integrated services for mental illness.”
“Missouri was chosen because frankly we just had a really good framework to work in,” Blunt said. “Right now, we’re one of eight states that the other 42 states will be watching over the next couple of years and seeing what happens when you treat behavioral health like all other health.”
The program will also allow people to pay for mental health services and treatment however they can, Blunt said.
“If you’re on a government program, that government program can pay (for treatment); if you have private insurance, the private insurance can pay; if you’re paying with your own money, (there’s) a very acceptable sliding scale on how you pay if you’re paying yourself,” he said.
The program will begin in July across Missouri and will use the same model as community health centers and will receive reimbursements for the services it provides.
“The model of behavioral health being treated like all other health will be proven to be again not only right thing to do but actually the right thing to do both for people who have a behavioral health challenge (and) whatever other challenges they’ve got,” Blunt said.
After the event, Blunt also spoke on President Donald Trump. He said the president is pushing the country in the right direction and likes his plans for the economy, proposed tax policy and efforts to eliminate regulations on states.
“People wanted a leader who did things did differently and he’s certainly doing that, but I think the direction the president wants to take the country is almost always the right direction,” Blunt said.