Bipartisan support for extension of mental health care funding

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senators on Wednesday stood alongside mental health professionals from Indiana, Iowa and Texas to call on Congress to extend funding they say is critical to providing mental health treatment.

With the funding set to expire in May, supporters say Congress must act quickly.

“This is the best funding we’ve ever received in northwest Iowa,” Kim Scorza, the CEO of the Seasons Center for Behavioral Health in Iowa, said.

The federal aid helped her family after a relative took his own life.

“He was a farmer and as many know, farming is a really tough job to be in,” Scorza said.

She was devastated, she said, but she knew how to help.

“I immediately got on the phone and we deployed a team of people, mobile crisis,” she said.

She said the clinic provided counseling to her grieving family. It also helps other suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. All those programs, she said, are contingent on the federal funding.

“The bottom line is we’re not going to wait anymore,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “It’s time to act.”

She and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., want their colleagues to renew the Excellence in Mental Health Act to continue and expand funding for mental health clinics in more than a dozen states.

“If you don’t get diagnosed, you don’t get treated,” Blunt said, explaining why the program is important.

The senators said the programs keeping people out of emergency rooms and jails, saving taxpayers big money. Lubbock County, Texas, Sheriff Kelly Lubbock said the program has helped turn things around in his community.

Stabenow suggested her fellow lawmakers should consider adding the bill to the coronavirus response package.

“It’s all connected,” she said.

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