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On Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Blunt & Stabenow Highlight Bipartisan Effort to Transform America’s Mental Health Care

October 18, 2022

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) joined Fox News’ Bret Baier to discuss their bipartisan work in the Senate, including the nationwide expansion of their Excellence in Mental Health Act. The senators joined U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra earlier in the day to announce the expansion, which was funded in the Blunt and Stabenow-backed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, signed into law in June.

Following Are Excerpts from Blunt and Stabenow’s Interview:

On the Nationwide Expansion of the Excellence in Mental Health Act:

BLUNT: “It's expanding. You know, people always feel like we've got to have a mental health system that works better. But we've really never been able to put a model in place that we can prove worked. And we've done that now. You know, as the last bill that President Kennedy signed into law 50 years ago, now 59 years ago, and it was the Community Mental Health Act. And the goal of that act was to close the big institutional facilities that weren't serving people very well and replace them with community-based, high-quality mental health facilities. And the country spent most of the 70s and even in some into the 80s closing those facilities, but very few places have offered the alternative. And so, this is really back to what's really been a goal for the federal government for 59 years this month. And we had this news conference this morning talking about how the other 40 states could join the 10 pilot states and have exactly what the government said we were going to do 59 years ago.”

On the Importance of Bipartisanship & Getting Things Done:

BLUNT: “[W]e have done a number of things together since then. We helped found the federally qualified health centers caucus. So you find these things to work together. I think often they don't get the coverage, obviously, that you can get by being really angry about something as opposed to really getting something done. And this is going to make a big difference in people's lives. … With people who have gotten to the United States Senate and have had positions that they've developed over years, it's probably not much use trying to talk them out of that. You find the common ground and move forward.”

On Treating Mental Health Like All Other Health:

BLUNT: “I do think the country is finally wrapping itself around the need to treat mental health like all other health, to get ourselves in a place in society where can talk about a mental health problem somebody in your family has just as comfortably as you talk a physical health problem.”

STABENOW: “I remember when we used to whisper somebody has cancer. ‘He has cancer,’ you know. Now people talk about their cancer, their treatments. They go to treatment. They come back. They continue their life. We want, in the case of a mental illness, a brain disease, or an addiction, to be something you talk about and say, yes, I got some help for that.”



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