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Senator Roy Blunt Promotes Mental Health Care Reform in Springfield

Here is one recycling bin located in the lobby of Sunvilla Apartments. Others are scattered throughout the room. Photo credit:

U.S Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri made a stop in Springfield Wednesday afternoon as part of a state-wide tour to promote improvements in mental health services.

The Republican Senator met with health officals at Burrell Behavorial Health to discuss his new bill, which would expand access to community health services and improve care for mental health patients. Present at the meeeting was Todd Schalible, Burrell CEO, who is confident in Missouri to lead the nation in mental health reform.

"Missouri has preserved a system of care," Schalible said. "Many states have not. Many states no longer have systems of mental health centers across the state. The state has put in place, through a Medicaid waiver, very speicalized services for the seriously mentally ill. That doesn't exist in a lot of states. The Deparment of Mental Health has very clearly distinguised Missouri."

Despite Missouri leading in mental health care, Schalible says there is still room for improvement especially in treating younger generations of mentally ill patients.

"I think the patients that face the biggest challenges are the young people who are not Medicaid eleigible, so many of the rembursement systems are driven by Medicaid. You hit about 18 and it drops way down, the average per capita utilization of mental health services, and to the age of about 26 or 27," Schalible said.

Blunt also Wednesday discussed mental health treatment for the military, veterans, and their families. He's recently introduced an amendment as part of the Caring for America's Heroes Act, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding health challenges.

Earlier in the day, Blunt met with officials at the St. Louis VA Medical Center, where concerns have arisen about mental health treatment for veterans.

While many are calling for the resingation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinskei regarding broader issues throughout the department, Blunt is not one of them. He and his Missouri colleague, Democrat Claire McCaskill, sent a letter two weeks ago to Shinseki seeking answers. Blunt said Wednesday he has recieved no response.