Sen. Blunt hopes "Excellence in Mental Health Act" gets ride on 'doc fix' bill

Mar 27, 2014

Sen. Roy Blunt
Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

US Senator Roy Blunt hopes Missouri could be one of 8 states to try to make significant changes to how mental health issues are treated in clinical settings as part of a 2-year pilot program. But that program still needs to be approved by Congress, and it’s been lumped into a bill seeking to address looming cuts to Medicare payments to doctors.

Blunt says Missouri would be a strong candidate to be one of the first states to try out the program in the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

“Many Missouri clinics are already doing this, to expand those services in a way that treats mental health challenges like all other health challenges in that clinic environment. We’re gonna work hard to continue to try to get that in a bill that hopefully will pass between now and the end of the month, both the house and the senate,” Blunt said.

States would need to apply to be one of the 8 selected for a 2-year demonstration period. The Act has been written into the so-called “doc fix” bill, that would give doctors a reprieve from a looming 24 percent cut in their payments from Medicare.

The bill passed by a surprise voice vote Thursday, amidst opposition from senior Democrats that say the bill would set back efforts to find a permanent fix to a flawed Medicare payment formula. It advances to the Senate, which hopes to pass it before a Monday deadline.