Deeds, a Democrat from Bath County, formed a subcommittee known as the Deeds commission in 2014 after the death of his son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, who committed suicide after stabbing his father 13 times at the family’s home. The day before, the senator had tried to admit his son to a mental hospital and was turned away when no bed could be found.

“The most important thing we can do in terms of care is Medicaid expansion, and I think we have a real chance to get that done,” Deeds said.

“With metal health, it’s kind of a long game,” he said. “It’s not like you can get instant gratification.”

Half of Virginia’s budget for mental health services goes to state hospitals that serve only 2 percent of the mentally ill population.

“If we had accessed those federal dollars, obviously we would have relieved pressure on some of the rural hospitals that are having difficulty keeping the doors open,” he said. “We would have been able to make more services available more broadly across underserved areas in the commonwealth.”

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