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      Stabenow: Bill is a 'small investment' towards better mental health care

      The Excellence in Mental Health Act passed through the Senate Finance Committee last week.

      Sen. Debbie Stabenow said the bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, could really help the mental health community by closing the gaps in the healthcare reform. It would allow those with a mental illness who do not have insurance and Medicaid to receive the treatment they need.

      If the bill is passed into law, community mental health clinics would be able to bill for services through Medicaid similar to how physical health clinics do.

      Ten states would be participating in the pilot program across the country and Stabenow says Michigan could be one of them.

      The bill would cost taxpayers $1.6 billion over ten years - an amount of money Stabenow calls a 'good investment.'

      "We are talking about a very small investment in saving lives and saving individuals and allowing us to benefit from the talents of people who, with a little bit of help, are going to be productive healthy citizens," Stabenow said.

      The Senator hopes expanded mental health treatment will help prevent tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting and the Navy Yard shooting.

      Stabenow said millions of people across the country are impacted by some form of mental illness and less then half are receiving the treatment they need.

      Stabenow is hopeful the bill will be passed by March.