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McGovern tours CSO in Greenfield

Congressman James "Jim" McGovern, Second Congressional District, Democrat

Congressman James "Jim" McGovern, Second Congressional District, Democrat

GREENFIELD — Not enough attention is paid by Congress to the issues of substance abuse and mental and behavioral health, according to U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, who visited service organization Clinical and Support Options Thursday on his first official visit at Greenfield’s new congressman.

McGovern spoke with officials and toured the Greenfield office of the western Massachusetts outpatient behavioral health and family support services center — thanking employees for the work they do, and promising to advocate for their efforts back in Washington.

“The things that you’re involved with are the things that I care very deeply about,” said McGovern during a roundtable discussion with Clinical and Support Options employees.

The organization provides aid in a number of ways — including treatment for sexual abuse and trauma, child and adult psychiatry, substance abuse and addictions treatment and job readiness services.

But McGovern suspects that many of these services — especially any paid for by the federal low-income assistance program Medicaid — are at risk as Congress continues its delayed “fiscal cliff” spending cut negotiations.

“What I’m afraid of,” he said, “is that in this next round where a lot of focus will be on cutbacks, the programs that benefit poor people, elderly people, vulnerable people, will be looked at first whereas I think they should be looked at last.”

As employees explained more about their services to McGovern, the conversation shifted to other topics, including health care and gun control.

The organization helps to keep people out of hospitals and long-term care facilities, employees said, which ties into the statewide collaborative effort to reduce health care costs. McGovern applauded this effort.

And questions about the mental health of suspects in recent mass shootings has brought the topic into national discussions on gun control.

“Some of the issues you deal with are going to be relevant in this debate we are going to have,” said McGovern.

Karin Jeffers, CEO of Clinical and Support Options, was pleased that McGovern accepted the organization’s invitation to visit and learn more about their services.

“Having the support of our congressman and the work that we do and the families that we serve is incredibly important,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to get the message directly to Washington and also have them see what the realities in our community are.”

It was McGovern’s first visit to Greenfield since he became the congressman for the newly configured 2nd Congressional District earlier this month.

Congressional redistricting placed Greenfield and 13 central and eastern Franklin County towns in the newly shaped 2nd Congressional District. Recent retiree John Olver represented the county for the past 22 years in a district that encompassed all of Franklin County.

McGovern has served in Congress for 16 years, but 60 percent of his territory is brand new this year, he said.

“I’m trying to learn quickly about everything in my new district. ... It’s like drinking water from a fire hose,” said McGovern, who also visited Northampton and Amherst Thursday.

Richard Neal of the 1st Congressional District represents the towns west of Greenfield.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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