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Biden meets with families of Newtown victims

Vice President Biden announced that $100 million in federal funding will go to increase the quality of mental health care in the United States during a meeting Tuesday with the families of people killed during the Sandy Hook school shootings a year ago.

Biden took the lead on the administration’s push to introduce more gun control legislation in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which took place on Dec. 14, 2012. Twenty children and six adults were massacred by Adam Lanza, who also killed mother and committed suicide. Lanza’s exact motive was never uncovered, but it was discovered that he had significant mental health issues.

“The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable.  The President and I have made it a priority to do everything we can to make it easier to access mental health services, and today’s announcements by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture build on that commitment,” Biden said in a statement from the White House.

The funding Biden comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA). HHS will spend $50 million in Affordable Care Act funds to help Community Health Centers establish or expand behavioral health services and mental health professionals for people living with mental illness or addiction. 

USDA aims to finance $50 to build, expand and improve mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years with funds that can be used to pay professional fees and implement tools such as telemedicine, which allow more doctors to treat rural communities remotely.

Biden’s push for further gun control measures like closing the gun show loophole and mandating background checks died in Congress after facing steep opposition from gun-rights advocates. The battle has shifted to the states, where outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has finance a push for changes in state legislatures.

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