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Blunt Joins With Actress Glenn Close To Highlight Mental Illness

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr
Mo. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is recovering after doctors at George Washington University successfully implanted a coronary stent on Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is optimistic that actress Glenn Close may help his cause to expand government access to treatment for those dealing with mental illness.

“I’m hopeful this is something we can get done,’’ Blunt told reporters in a conference call this week.

Mental health, he contended, has been shortchanged.  Unlike other medical issues,  mental health “has not been looked at as a society or government as something we want to deal with.”

Blunt is among the senators pressing for approval of a provision that would create demonstration programs in various parts of the country, including Missouri, where mental health treatment would available at federally qualified medical clinics and health centers.

The “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” as the measure is called, won the approval of the Senate’s Finance Committee earlier this month.

The sponsors’ plan is attach the mental health provision as an amendment to a broader health care bill that’s expected to come up for debate in January. The broader measure would, among other things, block the scheduled cuts in physicians’ reimbursement rates for treating Medicare patients that are part of the new compromise budget deal that just passed Congress.

Blunt is working with a bipartisan group of fellow senators, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.  She joined Blunt at a news conference earlier this week in Washington, which featured Close.

Close is the founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, an organization that is seeks to address the stigma surrounding mental-health issues. She has several relatives struggling with the disease.

“Approximately one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year nationwide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health,” Blunt said at that news conference. “We’ve got a model that works to solve these important problems, and passing this bipartisan provision out of committee is an important step forward. Now is the time for Congress to act.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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