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Missouri one of eight states participating in mental health treatment expansion pilot program

Missouri one of eight states participating in mental health treatment expansion pilot program

Missouri Debate Senate

FILE - In this May 17, 2016 file photo, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, with Senate Republican Leadership. A debate Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, featuring Blunt and his Democratic challenger, Jason Kander, could have ramifications far beyond the borders of Missouri. Control of the Senate is up for grabs in November, and polls show a close race in Missouri. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON • Missouri will be one of eight states participating in a pilot program expanding access to mental health services in community health clinics.

It’s the next step in the Excellence in Mental Health Act introduced by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and signed by President Obama in 2014.

Blunt on Wednesday said that one in four Americans suffer mental health problems but only a fraction get care. The designation of Missouri and the seven other states “will help bridge that gap by expanding and improving access to quality mental and behavioral health care,” he said.

Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are the other seven states chosen Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. They have until July 1 next year to begin two-year demonstration programs.

Vikki Wachino, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said the demonstration program will allow state to have more access for behavioral health services for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients, and it “will help individuals with mental and substance use disorders obtain the health care they need to maintain their health and well-being.”

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Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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