Biden to meet with Newtown families, announce mental health funds

Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-10 09:00:39-05

By Kevin Liptak

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President Joe Biden, an administration point man on reducing gun violence, will meet with families who lost loves ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Tuesday as the one-year anniversary of the shooting approaches.

Biden, who spearheaded an effort in the aftermath of the tragedy to find ways of stopping mass shootings, will discuss new funding for mental health services with the Newtown, Connecticut, families, who have publicly asked for privacy as the December 14 anniversary approaches.

Mental health advocates will also join the meeting, according to a White House official. The $100 million in new money is a part of recently announced Obama administration mental health push that also placed new rules on how insurance companies cover mental illnesses.

In November, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced her department would begin enforcing the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which included the guidelines that insurers treat mental illnesses the same as physical ailments.

Greater attention to mental illness was one of the focuses of Biden’s task force, which proposed ways of stemming gun violence. While the President and Biden announced 23 executive actions designed to curb shootings, legislative action failed on Capitol Hill, despite early indications of support.

In particular, a bill that would have required universal background checks on gun sales failed to garner enough support in the Senate. That measure was considered the most likely potential law to gain backing by senators of both parties. Other proposed measures, such as a ban on assault weapons, gained even less support.

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