We have been impressed with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s advocacy for health care — particularly mental health care — for some time.
His leadership in this area and ability to target federal resources to the parts of the state that need them the most have been vital for rural Missourians. That has been the case in the past and is especially critical during this lingering pandemic.
Blunt has always displayed an exceptional command of the issues in the ever-changing health care landscape and has been a champion for innovation on many of the health care challenges that confront Missouri and the nation.
Earlier this month, Blunt and Gov. Mike Parson were in Rolla to tour a new mobile health care clinic that will serve a number of counties in middle Missouri. The mobile clinic is capable of bringing behavioral, dental and medical services to rural settings.
Blunt called the clinic on wheels a “terrific” example of how our state is innovating health care by combining all facets and delivering those services through direct-to-patient technology like mobile clinics and telemedicine, which saves money while saving lives.
The mobile clinic is also an example of a preventive approach that can better address issues of substance abuse and mental health in underserved areas of our state.
Blunt’s presence at the mobile clinic tour is evidence of his commitment to this all-important health issue. He is recognized as one of the top GOP policy experts in the mental health care field.
Like many mental health care advocates, he recognizes that health care above the neck should to be treated the same as health care below the neck. He understands that when you treat behavioral health like any other health issue and invest in innovation and preventive measures, you will see the overall cost of health care go down.
And mental health problems have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which many feel is pushing America into a mental health crisis.
Blunt also has been active in combating the coronavirus through policy and funding initiatives. He leveraged his position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) to secure funding to specifically support and expand COVID-19 testing efforts for rural health clinics and hospitals in Missouri.
He has been at the center of congressional efforts to encourage quicker and more accessible testing for the virus. Blunt, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) developed a “Shark Tank”-style initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to leverage public-private partnerships and accelerate the development of new COVID-19 testing technologies.
But what we admire most about Blunt’s leadership in health care is his commitment to medical research, which at times has put him at odds with President Trump. He has pushed back on Trump’s efforts to slash federal funding at NIH, and his efforts ultimately resulted in increased funding for the federal agency.
Missouri has benefited by Blunt’s leadership in health care. So has the country.