(April 17) – For the thousands of Coloradans frustrated by lack of access to mental health services, a bill by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet offers hope for a brighter future.
“Nearly half a million Coloradans are not getting the mental health and substance use treatment they need,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “People in crisis do not have the bandwidth to navigate our unwieldy system. They need a champion who will help them break through some of these barriers.”
HB18-1357, sponsored by Rep. Michaelson Jenet, would create an ombuds office to help connect Coloradans to mental health resources and assist people who feel they have nowhere to turn when they are denied or put on waiting lists. The bill would also require insurers to document and disclose their efforts to comply with mental health parity and network adequacy laws.
Current Colorado law requires insurance carriers to maintain an adequate network of mental health providers. State and federal laws require equal coverage for mental and physical health. Yet mental health professional reimbursement rates in Colorado are 40 percent lower than rates for physical health care providers; Coloradans are going out of network seven times more often for mental health care than for physical care; and there are numerous other statistical indicators that the mental health system is Colorado’s health care stepchild.
HB18-1357 was approved by the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee on an 8-4 vote today. Its next stop is the Appropriations Committee.