Lawmakers propose bipartisan bill to boost mental health funding

Getty Images

Sens. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowDems: GOP playing from 'Trump textbook' Will Republicans put up more bureaucratic obstacles to healthy kids? Let’s stand with retired military leaders to get healthy school meals over the finish line MORE (D-Mich.) and Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Senate’s first female combat vet: VA secretary must resign VA chief 'deeply' regrets if Disney comment offended vets MORE (R-Mo.) on Wednesday announced they are introducing a bipartisan bill to increase funding for community mental health clinics. 

The bill would expand on a 2014 law that provides funding for a trial program for eight states to create community mental health centers. The centers are to offer services such as 24-hour crisis psychiatric care. 

The bill announced Wednesday expands on this effort by providing funding for 24 states to have the new clinics, an increase from the eight states designated in the 2014 law. While the bill is still being finalized, Stabenow’s office said it expects the measure to provide around $1.7 billion in new funding. 

The announcement follows a renewed focus on mental health created by the debate over gun violence. 

President Obama on Tuesday proposed $500 million in new mental health funding as part of his actions on gun control.  

The White House has expressed skepticism that Republicans are serious about improving mental health services.

“For those in Congress who so often rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avoiding action on guns, here’s your chance to support these efforts,” Obama said Tuesday. “Put your money where your mouth is.”

Republicans point to a more sweeping mental health reform bill from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) that is working its way through the House Energy and Commerce Committee as evidence that the issue is a GOP priority.

“We’ve been on the case to reform our mental health system, and we welcome the president to the discussion,” Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement Tuesday. “Mental health reform has been and continues to be a priority for 2016.”